Solar Storm Warning – SunEarth Day 2013

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NASA’s Sun-Earth Days 2013: Solar Max-Storm Warning
– Alex Young
– Daniel Smith
– Lou Mayo
– Kelly Fast
– Joe Burt
– Doug Voss

ANNOUNCER: Solar Max-Storm Warning, this year’s Sun Earth Day theme. How do scientists and engineers work together to study the Sun Earth connection? Are other planets in the solar system affected by the Sun? Plus, we take a sneak peek at an upcoming mission to the Moon. All this on NASA EDGE!
CHRIS: Welcome to NASA EDGE…
FRANKLIN: …an inside and outside look at all things NASA.
CHRIS: We’re at the Wallop’s Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
FRANKLIN: For Sun Earth Day 2013 Solar Max.
CHRIS: Storm warning affects on the solar system.
FRANKLIN: Before we get started, we’re going to start with our Space Weather Action Report from NASA EDGE’s own, Blair Allen, who’s reporting from…
CHRIS: Blair, what’s going on?
BLAIR: Yes, yes, guys. Very good. Hi. I’m Blair and I’m reporting live from the surface of the moon during solar max with a Special Space Weather Action Center Report. As you know, this is the most dangerous time to subject yourself to solar activity, especially from the moon. During solar max, we are at the apex. We are at the pinnacle. We are at the top. We are at the zenith, if you will, of solar activity. And right now, even though you can’t see it, I am being bombarded protonically from solar radiation. In fact, it’s so dangerous that it makes David Banner’s accident look like a jog through an airport scanner.
CHRIS: Don’t you mean Bruce Banner?
BLAIR: Bruce or David, either version of the character, child’s play compared to what I’m facing right now. If not for this protective suit, I would be wasting away right now.
CHRIS: Why are you on the moon because there appears to be a lot of solar activity?
BLAIR: Don’t let the activity on the sun fool you. One of the qualities and characteristics of solar max is it can burst out at any given moment. Now, here on the moon I’m about 20 clicks south of the Shackleton Rim. I’m on the southern part of the moon near the Antipenes I believe, but I did lose my map and some GPS as a result of solar max.
FRANKLIN: Blair, I think everybody here wants to know whether or not you are hot or cold in that suit because space is generally cold.
CHRIS: It’s cold here.
FRANKLIN: Cold, yeah. [Laughing]
BLAIR: Well Franklin, one thing to point out is as you may or may not know apparently, the moon does not have an atmosphere. In fact, we barely have a magnetosphere. We sort of glide through the magnetosphere of the Earth on occasion but essentially we are ex-magnetosphera, which means there’s no protection from radiation. To get to your question, I am very cool inside this suit. It’s cold on the moon, radiation doesn’t mean hot but I’m wearing a thermal controlled insulating suit underneath this suit. I must say, despite the radiation, quite comfortable.
CHRIS: Blair, I tell you what, have a safe trip back to Earth. Hopefully, you’ll make it okay.
BLAIR: One more thing Chris. One thing to remind folks, if you are planning on travelling to the moon during the solar max, just remember to pack enough food because anything you try to cook on the surface is going to turn out like green eggs and ham. I mean really green eggs and ham. You will not like them in a room. You will not like them on the moon.
FRANKLIN: Alex, right now we’re supposed to be in solar max but there’s not as much activity going on.ALEX: The scientists had predicted that we were going to reach solar maximum sometime in 2013, maybe towards the end. I think the estimate was about May. But what we’ve come to find is the activity has really toned down over the last couple months. We reached really the peak towards the end of 2011. What scientists really think is happening is if you look back in history many of the previous solar cycles don’t have one hump, one maximum, but in fact, have two. That’s what we think is going to happen. We’ve reached one of those humps and think that eventually the activity will pick back up and we’ll see another hump, a double hump solar maximum.
FRANKLIN: From solar minimum to solar maximum, have you been able to determine what causes the fluctuation in solar activity between those years?
ALEX: That is one of the $64,000 questions in Solar Physics. It’s a great question. We’ve made a lot of progress in that and one of the reasons we’ve made so much progress is because of SDO. SDO has the instrument called HMI. It’s looking at the magnetic field on the surface and inside the sun. We know that the solar cycle is governed by the magnetic field that is generated inside of the sun. SDO has allowed us to look inside the sun and see a lot of the magnetic activity. It’s given us a much, much more detailed view of this. We don’t know yet but we’re getting closer and closer to understanding this magnetic activity. We call it the magnetic dynam