Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

International Heliophysical Year begins

20.02.2007
A year of scientific collaboration and public engagement events aimed at understanding space weather and the Sun's true effects throughout the Solar System starts today. The International Heliophysical Year (IHY) will begin with a ceremony held at the United Nations Science and Technology Subcommittee Session in Vienna on 19 February 2007.

The Sun connects with all the planets via the solar wind, a flow of electrically charged particles that constantly 'blows' off the Sun and creates 'space weather'. Space weather interactions can affect and erode the atmospheres of Earth and other planets, and, when channelled through a planetary magnetic field, create beautiful aurorae. Until now, physicists have been principally concerned with the way the solar wind interacts with Earth, the so-called Sun-Earth connection. Now it is time to think bigger.

"Fifty years ago the International Geophysical Year marked the starting point to see Earth in space. Now with the IHY we are on the threshold of being able to investigate the interconnectivity of the whole Solar System," says Hermann Opgenoorth, ESA Head of Solar System Missions Division.

At the forefront of this effort is a fleet of ESA spacecraft. "ESA's heliophysics space missions – in particular SOHO, Ulysses and Cluster – are key members of a network of spacecraft providing data for such studies," says Richard Marsden, ESA's Ulysses Mission Manager and Project Scientist.

These missions study various aspects of the Sun-Earth connection. SOHO stands guard, watching the Sun for any sign of violent magnetic activity that could hurl a barrage of electrically charged gas at Earth. Cluster orbits the Earth and studies the way this gas, known as plasma, interacts with the Earth's magnetic field.

The ESA-NASA Ulysses spacecraft has now been in space for nearly 20 years. It is currently directly beneath the Sun's south pole, completing its third looping passage around our central star. Ulysses is returning some surprising results on the complete solar cycle that are currently being analysed.

It is not only these missions that are contributing data to the IHY effort. ESA also has special plasma instruments on Mars Express, Venus Express and on Cassini, the joint NASA mission to Saturn. These instruments all study the way the solar wind interacts with those planets. "This is the first time in history we have such a Solar System fleet at our disposal," says Hermann Opgenoorth.

"As well as stimulating scientific collaborations, IHY also aims to raise public awareness of the importance of the Sun-Earth connection," says Marsden. In particular, on 10 June 2007, 27 scientific establishments (24 across Europe, two in India and one in Mexico) will open their doors to the public in order to inform people about the importance of the Sun's influence on Earth.

"When people hear the word astronomy, I believe only five percent think of the Sun-Earth connection. Through IHY, I would like to raise that to at least ten percent," says Carine Briand, Observatoire de Paris à Meudon, and the co-chair of the European coordinating committee for IHY.

IHY is just one, yearlong campaign within a decade-long initiative called International Living With a Star (ILWS). ESA and NASA are joint partners in ILWS (which consists of a total of 27 space agencies around the world). In this framework discussions have recently started to evaluate a joint venture of ESA's Solar Orbiter and NASA's Solar Sentinels. If successful this move will share the expertise that both sides have developed and build a stronger coordinated multi-spacecraft mission, to both study and monitor space weather conditions anywhere around the Sun.

Bernhard Fleck | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM04IBE8YE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>