Saturday March 24, 2018

Britain may face the loss of the Magic and Beauty of Northern Lights by 2050: Study

Solar wind is made up of electrically charged particles from the Sun, and travels at around a million miles per hour

Northern Lights, Wikimedia

London, Feb 2, 2017: Britain may face the loss of the magic and beauty of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at University of Reading in the UK have concluded that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the Sun’s atmosphere by a third and weaken its protective influence and nurture on the Earth in a recent study.

There is a possibility that this could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation. It can also make the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.

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According to Matthew Owen, the leader of the Research program from Reading’s Meteorology department, “The magnetic activity of the sun ebbs and flows in predictable cycles, but there is also evidence that it is due to plummet, possibly by the largest amount for 300 years.”

“If so, the Northern Lights phenomenon would become a natural show exclusive to the polar regions, due to a lack of solar wind forces that often make it visible at lower latitudes,” Owens added.

Owens also mentioned, “As the Sun becomes less active, sunspots and coronal ejections will become less frequent. However, if a mass ejection did hit the Earth, it could be even more damaging to the electronic devices on which society is now so dependent.”

The study has shown how sunspot records can be utilised to reconstruct what happened the last time the Earth went through such a dramatic dip in solar activity nearly three centuries ago.

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With the help of updated models and contemporary reports, the researchers were able to predict what could possibly happen during another similar event which is likely to occur in the next few decades.

According to the scientists associated with the program, the coming grand minimum could be similar to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century, when sun spot activity almost stopped; another symptom of a less active Sun.

Solar wind is made up of electrically charged particles from the Sun, and travels at around a million miles per hour.

A reduction in solar wind would see the heliosphere, the bubble-like configuration around the solar system maintained by particles emitted by the Sun, shrink significantly. This protective bubble helps in shielding and protecting the Earth from harmful radiation from outer space, but it has weakened since the 1950s.

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The prediction of the scientists mentions a rapid reduction in the size of the bubble by around the middle of the 21st century. The own magnetic field of the earth deflects some of this radiation, but areas close to the north and the pole regions are more vulnerable where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest.

“If the decline in sunspots continues at this rate, and data from the past suggests that it will, we could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades,” Professor Mike Lockwood from University of Reading informed.

This study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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NASA Reveals Plans For Future Missions To Moon

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will serve NASA and its commercial and international partners as a uniquely valuable staging point

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA's new instrument can measure incoming solar energy. Pixabay
  • NASA can release two mid-size missions soon
  • The missions can come as early as 2022
  • The mission is undertaken to research about moon

The first of two mid-size commercial missions to the Moon for NASA could come as early as 2022, said the US space agency which is focused on increasing science activities near and on the Earth’s natural satellite and ultimately returning humans to its surface.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
NASA will release these missions to know more about the moon. Wikimedia Commons

As part of US President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposals, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

“The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system,” Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington said in a statement on Thursday.

Also Read: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Tests New Drill Method On Mars

“Coupled with the capabilities enabled by the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, these missions will usher in a new era of exploration of the Moon and its resources, and provide a training ground for human missions to Mars,” Gerstenmaier added.

NASA said it plans to enlist a series of commercial robotic landers and rockets to meet lunar payload delivery and service needs.

The agency intends to release a draft request for proposals this spring to initiate commercial lunar payload service contracts for surface delivery as early as 2019.

The mission has garnered support from almost everywhere. IANS
The mission has garnered support from almost everywhere. IANS

NASA already has partnerships with three US companies that are advancing technologies to deliver cargo payloads to the lunar surface.

The partners — Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh; Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California; and Moon Express of Cape Canaveral, Florida — began work in 2014 under NASA’s Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative.

The original three-year agreements were amended to extend the work for another two years.

The Lunar CATALYST partnerships have helped advance commercial capabilities to deliver small payloads to the lunar surface.

But the agency is also interested in understanding and developing requirements for future human landers.

By developing landers with mid-size payload capacity (500 to 1,000 kg — roughly the size of a smart car) first, this will allow evolution toward large-scale human-rated lunar landers (5,000 to 6,000 kg).

Additionally, this class of lander can support larger payloads to the Moon addressing science and exploration objectives such as sample return, resource prospecting, demonstrations of in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), and others.

The agency said it would seek information from industry later this month for larger lander development, and determine how best to proceed with potential partnerships.

This research can be groundbreaking as moon is considered important for growth of humans.

NASA plans to follow that effort with a solicitation to enable the partnerships between NASA and industry. The agency is also planning to build a lunar outpost in the 2020s.

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will serve NASA and its commercial and international partners as a uniquely valuable staging point and communications relay for exploration and science missions in deep space, the agency said. IANS