Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA goes to the ’SORCE’ of Earth sun-blockers

23.07.2004


Scientists using measurements from NASA’s Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite have discovered that Venus and sunspots have something in common: they both block some of the sun’s energy going to Earth.



Using data from NASA’s SORCE satellite, scientists noticed that, when Venus came between the Earth and the sun on June 8, the other planet reduced the amount of sunlight reaching Earth by 0.1 percent. This Venus transit occurs when, from an earthly perspective, Venus crosses in front of the sun. When it happens, once every 122 years, there are two transits eight years apart. The next crossing happens in 2012 and will be visible to people on the U.S. West Coast.

"Because of its distance from Earth, Venus appeared to be about the size of a sunspot," said Gary Rottman, SORCE Principal Investigator and a scientist at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The SORCE team had seen similar reductions in the sun’s energy coming Earthward during the October 2003 sunspot activity.


In October 2003 the Earth-bound sunlight dimmed 0.3 percent for about four days, due to three very large sunspot groups moving across the face of the sun.

"This is an unprecedented large decrease in the amount of sunlight, and it is comparable to the decrease that scientists estimate occurred in the seventeenth century," Rottman said. That decrease lasted almost 50 years, and was likely associated with the exceptionally cold temperatures throughout Europe at that time, a period from the 1400s to the 1700s known as the "little ice age."

Solar conditions during the little ice age were quite different, as there were essentially no sunspots. Astronomers of the time, like Galileo, kept a good record of sunspot activity before and during the period, encountering only about 50 sunspots in 30 years.

Rottman said, "Something very different was happening during the seventeenth century, and it produced a much more permanent change in the sun’s energy output at that time." Today, the large sunspots are surrounded by bright areas called "faculae." Faculae more than compensate for the decrease in sunlight from sunspots, and provide a net increase in sunlight when averaged over a few weeks.

The large number of sunspots occurring in October/November 2003 indicated a very active sun, and indeed many very large solar flares occurred at that time. SORCE observed the massive record-setting solar flares in x-rays. The flares were accompanied by large sunspots, which produced a 0.3 percent decrease in the sun’s energy output. SORCE simultaneously collected the energy from all wavelengths, something that had never been done before.

"The SORCE satellite instruments provide measurements of unprecedented accuracy, so the sun’s energy output is known with great precision, and precise knowledge of variations in the sun’s energy input to Earth is a necessary prerequisite to understanding Earth’s changing climate," said Robert F. Cahalan, SORCE Project Scientist and Head of the Climate and Radiation Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The SORCE measurements provide today’s atmospheric and climate scientists with essential information on the sun’s energy input to the Earth. These measurements also will be valuable to future scientists, who will be relating their view of the world back to conditions existing today. Likewise Galileo’s findings about the sun almost 400 years ago have increased in value as understanding of the sun and its importance for Earth has advanced.

Rob Gutro | NASA
Further information:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2004/0730sunblockers.html
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>