Caltech Builds Spacecraft to Speed Through Sun’s Atmosphere and Snag Solar Wind

first_imgScience and Technology Caltech Builds Spacecraft to Speed Through Sun’s Atmosphere and Snag Solar Wind Caltech scientists helped develop an instrument onboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe By WHITNEY CLAVIN Published on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | 11:18 am Top of the News Subscribe Community News Herbeauty6 Lies You Should Stop Telling Yourself Right NowHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty6 Strong Female TV Characters Who Deserve To Have A SpinoffHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyCostume That Makes Actresses Beneath Practically UnrecognizableHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty10 Questions To Start Conversation Way Better Than ‘How U Doing?’HerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyThese Fashion Tips Are Making Tall Girls The Talk Of The TownHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyCreative Ways To Burn Calories That Require Little EffortHerbeautyHerbeauty Make a comment Business News faithfernandez More » ShareTweetShare on Google+Pin on PinterestSend with WhatsApp,Virtual Schools PasadenaHomes Solve Community/Gov/Pub SafetyCitizen Service CenterPASADENA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES CALENDARClick here for Movie Showtimes More Cool Stuff Name (required)  Mail (required) (not be published)  Website  First Heatwave Expected Next Week center_img Jamie Rankin is seen holding a silicon detector similar to the ones onboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. She helped test the detectors, getting them ready for flight, at Caltech. Credit: CaltechA new NASA mission, set to launch on August 11, will whip through the sun’s sizzling outer atmosphere, or corona, flying closer to the sun than any spacecraft before it. Observations by the mission, called the Parker Solar Probe, will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the sun’s dynamic corona.One of these mysteries has to do with high-speed solar particles that zip toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Scientists know the particles originate in the corona but they don’t understand how they are being accelerated. To address the question, a team led by Mark Wiedenbeck of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and including members from Caltech and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, developed one of several instruments onboard the Parker Solar Probe, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi, or EPI-Hi. (The instrument has a partner, EPI-Lo, and both are overseen by the dual instrument’s principal investigator, David McComas of Princeton University.)“We will be exploring a region of space that has never before been visited,” says Wiedenbeck (PhD ’78), a Caltech alumnus who studied under Ed Stone—an investigator on the EPI-Hi instrument and the David Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech.”We have ideas about what will be found, but the most important results may well come from observations that are completely unexpected,” says Wiedenbeck.The namesake of the mission is another Caltech alumnus, 91-year-old Eugene Parker (PhD ’51), who predicted, in 1958, the existence of a supersonic solar wind—a flow of charged particles that stream off the sun, accelerating at speeds faster than that of sound.“Many of his colleagues thought he must be wrong, but when Mariner 2 was on the trip to Venus in 1962, it revealed that a supersonic wind was always present,” says Stone, who is also the longtime project scientist for NASA’s Voyager mission, which includes Voyager 1 and 2—both launched in 1977 on tours of the solar system. The Voyager spacecraft each have instruments similar to EPI-Hi that are designed to detect charged particles from the sun, planetary radiation belts, and beyond our solar system.Stone, who worked across the hall from Parker in the early 1960s at the University of Chicago, says that Parker also correctly predicted that the solar wind would create a large bubble around the sun, now called the heliosphere. “In 2012, Voyager 1 finally left the bubble first predicted by Parker, entering interstellar space,” he says.The Parker Solar Probe will study the source of the solar wind: the sun’s blistering corona, with temperatures of several million degrees Celsius. When the solar wind slams into Earth’s atmosphere, it sometimes creates beautiful, glowing aurorae, but can also lead to harmful “space weather” that disrupts satellite communications and navigation systems.Of particular interest to the EPI-Hi team is the unsolved riddle of how a small fraction of the solar-wind charged particles reach near-light speeds.“When the sun is active, it can suddenly eject a billion tons of material that creates a shock wave traveling at speeds up to 10 million kilometers per hour. These shocks accelerate protons, electrons, and heavier ions that can reach Earth in less than an hour, creating space weather hazards to humans and hardware in space,” says EPI-Hi team member Richard Mewaldt, a research professor of physics at Caltech who has been studying high-energy particles in space for 47 years.“We believe that these solar-wind charged particles, the nuclei of atoms, get bounced around by shock waves like ping pong balls, gaining more and more speed,” says Stone. (A similar phenomenon is thought to happen outside our solar system, except there the particles are known as cosmic rays.) “We have been observing from a distance the effects of what is happening near the sun. Now we will fly through the region where it is happening. This should provide us with new clues about the process,” he says.The EPI-Hi instrument consists of stacks of silicon detectors designed to snag high-speed particles and measure their energies. Graduate student Jamie Rankin, who works with the EPI-Hi team, helped test the detectors at Caltech. “Some of the detectors are very thin, with the thinnest being about one-eighth the thickness of a standard sheet of paper. For the detectors to make the required measurements, we had to verify that their thickness only varied by no more than one-hundredth the thickness of a sheet of paper,” she says.The team says that figuring out how the sun accelerates particles to high energy will also rely on complementary measurements from other instruments onboard the Parker Solar Probe—instruments that will measure the solar wind, turbulent magnetic fields, radio bursts, and other phenomena.After launch, the Parker Solar Probe will swing by Venus for a gravitational boost toward the sun. The spacecraft, protected by a thermal shield, will ultimately circle the sun two dozen times over seven years. At closest approach, it will skim about 6 million kilometers above the sun’s surface; at that point, it will be the fastest spacecraft of all time, traveling fast enough to get from Los Angeles to New York in less than 20 seconds. The mission’s first batch of data is expected to arrive on Earth in December.The joint EPI-Hi and EPI-Lo investigation, called the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, is led by Princeton University. EPI-Hi was built largely at Caltech, with significant contributions from the Southwest Research Institute and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. EPI-Lo was built by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun Operations Center is located at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. ShareShareTweetSharePin it Community News Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadenalast_img read more

News story: National award for supporting young people in space

first_img I could not have done it without the team of student volunteers who give up their spare time to highlight the importance of the space sector, and provide opportunities for young people to launch their careers. Industry/ Project Team – Oxford Space Systems Industry/ Project Individual – Magali Vaissiere Academic Study/ Research – The UK Cassini-Huygens Team Team Education & Outreach – ESSERO-UK Space Ambassadors Individual Education and Outreach – Vix Southgate Media, broadcast and written – BBC2 ‘Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?’ Lifetime Achievement – Richard Peckham International Space Achievement – SpaceX Falcon Team I’m honoured to have been awarded with a Sir Arthur Clarke for my work with UKSEDS and SpaceCareers.uk. Robert served on the UK’s national student space society (UKSEDS) Executive Committee and Board of trustees, where he helped run the organisation and developed opportunities for fellow students by building partnerships with major space companies and supporting the organisation of the National Student Space Conference.Robert studied Physics (with Space Science and Technology) at the University of Leicester and completed his Aerospace Engineering PhD at the University of Strathclyde. He now works in the UK Space Agency’s Chief Engineer’s office as a Mission Analyst.The UK Space Agency recently (5 October 2018) unveiled a list of space sector work placements available to recent graduates or postgraduate students. The full list of placements can be found on SpaceCareers.uk.Earlier this year, the Agency announced an allocation of up to £4 million to find solutions to major challenges facing the NHS in its 70th anniversary with NHS England.The Agency’s Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications, was finalist for the Individual Industry/Project award for this collaborative work with the NHS.The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards were presented yesterday (1 November 2018) at the British Interplanetary Society’s Reinventing Space Conference.Other winners include: SpaceCareers.uk launched in 2015 and has since helped thousands of young people find their dream job in space.Robert Garner, Mission Analyst at the UK Space Agency said,last_img read more