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 Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>