The Facts about Cosmic Rays

Space Data Warns of Sun’s Vibrational Effects on Earth

“Posner’s technique reduces the odds of exposure by more than 20 per cent compared with current methods, allowing astronauts to venture further from their outpost,” says Francis Cucinotta, chief scientist for NASA’s space radiation program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US. “That’s good news for both science and exploration.”

It is pretty hard for the Sun to pull a surprise outburst on us, as its flow of electrons are a warning bell of incoming hazardous radiation, which protects our astronauts, Earth, and satellites from the dangers of solar flares from the Sun. They are of no danger to Earth, because of the magnetic field that deflects the particles that are in low orbit. But once we begin to embark on the missions to Mars or the Moon, we will be outside the protected field of Earth.

Arik Posner, a NASA solar physicist in Washington, DC, and from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, has worked out a method to make the electron warnings more reliable. He has used the latest information from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) to discover two danger signs that are specific to electron danger. One is the speed of an electron’s flow, which increases at the beginning f a potential storm. Another is how strong this flow can becomes. Software was developed for predictions with data from 1998 to 2002, which was tested on the data from 2003.

According to Posner, the new software was successful in predicting the 2003 four major ion storms, with an advance warning for each one ranging from seven to 74 minutes. An advantage of this is if astronauts were in space, they would have opportune time to take shelter before a storm would approach them. One of the flaws of the software was that it predicted three false alarms in addition to the four accurate onesfalse alarms that were weak enough to be unimportant and a storm that never happened at all.

The Southwest Research Institute’s strengths involves the development of the payloads aboard the satellites and sounding rockets, addressing theoretical aspects of space physics and planetary astronomy (SWRI, 2007). Additional areas involve the formulation of space concepts, and to develop advanced space borne instrumentation. The Boulder division in particular has a space studies department, which involves studies of planetary, solar and stellar, planetary atmospheres, along with computer and mission systems.