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NASA to Launch Magnetic Storm Probes

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the marlon-brando-pocahontas-and-me dept.

Space 51

eldavojohn writes "The aurora borealis (also known as the Northern Lights) has long been known to be an effect resulting from the Sun's solar wind pushing particles into the earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. In light of the possible danger that these substorms could pose to astronauts & equipment, NASA is now planning a mission to track down these magnetic storms and disturbances. The program's not so catchy name of Time History of Events and Macroscale Interaction during Substorms has a slightly catchier acronym of THEMIS. From the article, "In order to scan the Earth's magnetic field and pinpoint the origin of substorms, THEMIS researchers plan to stagger their spacecraft in different orbits that range in altitude from 10 to 30 times the radius of the Earth (the planet's radius is about 3,962 miles, or 6,378 kilometers).""

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correction (0)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748590)

The aurora borealis (also known as the Northern Lights) has long been known to be an effect resulting from the Sun's solar wind pushing particles into the earth's magnetic field and atmosphere.

No, aurora borealis is caused when Homer Simpson attempts to cook a meal at Principal Skinner's house.

Re:correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748660)

No. Aurora borealis is caused when Principal Skinner burns the "steamed hams" he's cooking for Superintendent Chalmers.

Re:correction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748752)

you are a jack ass
I am drunk beyond all reason, whay are you up this late just to be the first poster on a /. comment. get a life looser. whoo o\\ ethonol!!!!!

If you were a Google SHILL you'd know I wasn't one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748904)

If you were a Google SHILL you'd know I wasn't one !! I am not, listen! NOT, a Google SHILL !!

Magentic probe? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748596)

I know there is a good joke here somewhere, I just can't think of it. What the hell is a Magentic storm probe? Is this like when the magenta toner explodes in a laser printer?

Re:Magentic probe? (4, Funny)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748638)

Cyanic storm probe tests have already conclusively determined that cyanic storms turned out to be made of HCN.

Yellowic storm probes are used mostly to clear out earwax...

You know what, I think you are wrong, there are no "good jokes here somewhere."

Re:Magentic probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17749028)

It's a probe for detecting ultraViolet waves, obviously.

Re:Magentic probe? (2, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 7 years ago | (#17751080)

Something similar happened to me once when in a moment of absentmindedness I first removed the protective strip and THEN shook the toner.
Lets just say that my colleagues were not amused. At first.

But when they realised that the cloud concentrated only around me - they found it much more amusing.

Re:Magentic probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17753076)

Looks like the title was edited to correct their typo. It originally read magentic, not magnetic.

THEMIS is the ancient Greek Goddess of... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748646)

She's the ancient Greek Goddess of "The Law of Nature" or "Judgement".

Re:THEMIS is the ancient Greek Goddess of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17749772)

And to be a true acronym, it should be 'thoeamids', which sounds more like a gland than a goddess.

Kinda makes you wonder (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748670)

Has anyone bothered to fly into the aurora borealis with, like, some sensors strapped to fuselage? Seems kinda like one of the first things you'd try once you had a plane that could fly up to high altitudes.. surely someone has sent weather baloons into the aurora borealis. Of course, it would be piss funny if it turns out that outfitting an X1 era plane with a magnetic field generator and flying it into the aurora borealis gave it some sort of magnetic boost, like riding a wave, and this was fast enough to enter orbit.

Re:Kinda makes you wonder (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748852)

I think the Earth's field is about 1 gauss, barely enough to move a compass needle, and at that only when the needle is carefully balanced on a good bearing. That is, the forces involved in the aurora are exceedingly weak.

Re:Kinda makes you wonder (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748888)

Bah, says you. It's a storm! The reason the sky lights up could be because there's insane amounts of high energy plasma being dragged into the atmosphere. If Startrek DS9 has taught me anything, it is that all women from Trill are hot, and space storms are an inexpensive and improbable source of free propulsion.

Re:Kinda makes you wonder (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17752562)

Drat. What was I thinking? In fact, now I recall you don't even need a space-storm, if you have an Infinite Improbability Drive -- just a cup of good, strong, hot tea.

Re:Kinda makes you wonder (2, Interesting)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17750210)

The issue that NASA is trying to resolve has much more important value than the previous post is thinking. The mechanisms for the aurora and other processes are very powerful producing electrical currents at the highest levels ever seen. What is more the processes do affect the earth in profound ways. The link between these and the weather is being firmly established. NASA is starting to get the data together that is linking the stellar space behavior and that of all weather on the planet earth.

Yes this is very important. It involves everything from the trivial to the profound. Make no mistake about it the aurora mechanism is very important to understanding the physics of the universe as well. There is a considerable prejudice against what is coming down form SOHO and other platforms. The Electrical Nature of the Universe is being proved with very strong evidence thought the Gravity only crowd still attacks it. The entire electrical circuit will be pretty much locked up when this network of measuring devices is installed. At which point the whole nature of the cosmos will be shown without doubt to be vastly different from the classical assumptions. Yes this is important stuff here.

Wrong (1)

s388 (910768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786794)

"The mechanisms for the aurora and other processes are very powerful producing electrical currents at the highest levels ever seen."

You-- and "Thunderbolts"-- want to argue that EM rather than gravity shapes EVEN PLANETARY systems, yet, the aurora borealis is the most powerful electric current observed? The aurora is entirely local to earth!

Hello? The "Thunderbolts" claim that INTERPLANETARY electric arcs shape planets. Surely we would have observed one by now?

Re:Kinda makes you wonder (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17749078)

The minimum altitude for auroras is around 80 km.

COCKS (0, Troll)

SUROK (815273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748700)

faggotry

THEMIS the *new* name (4, Funny)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748710)

"THEMIS Probes" might not sound all that exciting, but its a big upgrade from the old name.

For a long time the sattelites were called the "Aurora National Atmospheric Layer Probes", but the acronym
"ANAL Probes" was just too hard to take seriously.

Re:THEMIS the *new* name (0, Offtopic)

toejam316 (1000986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748750)

The concerning thing is, it still sounds like ANUS when slurred. Maybe they only want the drunkards to catch on? Afterall, what can drunk people do? They'll forget everything in the morning.

Units of Measurement (3, Funny)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748792)

"In order to scan the Earth's magnetic field and pinpoint the origin of substorms, THEMIS researchers plan to stagger their spacecraft in different orbits that range in altitude from 10 to 30 times the radius of the Earth (the planet's radius is about 3,962 miles, or 6,378 kilometers)."

Due to what happened with the Mars Polar Lander [wikipedia.org] could we get those figures in just one measurement system, if for no other reason just to avoid possible confusion and the possibility of sending a spacecraft hurtling into the surface of a planet I live on? Thanks. :)

Re:Units of Measurement (1, Insightful)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17749044)

Not just MPL -- I am aware of four different missions that were either destroyed or drastically reduced in functionality (the last one was DART) because a contractor insisted on doing their calculations/modeling/development in imperial units and then flubbed somewhere at a translation to metric at the interface with NASA (twice Lockheed Martin, once OSC, once Boeing).

The abysmal inability of the American Industry to perform a single project in metric units is only one of the reasons why none of them has even the slightest chance of ever getting a man into orbit.

Re:Units of Measurement (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754448)

Coordination is good and all, but there's nothing inherently superior about SI units over US customary units. And even if every measurement tool, design program, manufacturing machine and socket set in the US was converted to SI units, you'd still have to deal the conversion, and that conversion would still be susceptible to the sorts of errors you're whining about.

Moreover, it's not even as simple as a one-time conversion. There's also the hassle of filling your A/C with what used to be 10.0 lbs of coolant and is now 4.5359237 kg, or any of the other conversions you'd have to continue to do for decades to support existing devices and infastructure that weren't designed around the new system of units.

Re:Units of Measurement (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | more than 6 years ago | (#17766024)

Hmm...

I was brought up using Imperial units. When I learnt metric units, lots of things I was interested in were easier to understand and calculations were simplified.

In one book I read (when I was about 9 years old) it said that a cubic inch of the Sun's core gave of xxx (I don't remember the exact number) horsepower! If they had specified it in metric I could relate it to electric heaters.

Try getting a rough idea of the fraction of a woman's weight her baby is: compare mentally getting the ratio of baby of 7 pounds and 8 ounces with the mother in 9 stone and 7 pounds - you're into some difficult calculations! However, compare the a baby of 3.6 Kg to the mother's weight of 60Kg gives you about 6% easily.

How how many British Thermal Units is generated when you drop a hundredweight 4 yards at sea level (g = 32 feet /second^2)? Much easier to calculate the energy in Joules dropping 100 Kg 4 metres (g = 9.8 m/s^2).

Try adding 1 5/8" to 2 2/3", whereas adding 41mm to 68 mm is much easier - for most woodwork projects measuring to the nearest mm is accurate enough!

Please tell us in what ways is Imperial easier?

You might says it is easier to divide a foot in to 3 parts than a metre, true - but dividing a metre in 5 is easier than dividing a foot into 5 parts.

So most calculations in Science and everyday work are easier in metric.

Oh, by the way - please tell your airforce that Kg/cm^2 is not a valid unit of pressure, as pressure is force over a unit area and Kg is a unit of mass! The metric unit of force is the Newton. Force and mass are fundamentally different concepts.

Re:Units of Measurement (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#17768450)

First, the errors in space flight we were discussing have never been the result of complicated arithmetic, they were the result of mis-applied unit conversion. It's not like space probes come equiped with some guy with a slide rule to do calculations -- the computer is no more likely to mis-calculate 12.685 * 39.553 than 10.000 * 22.934.

Second, the only operation that SI units simplify is same-type unit conversion. This is almost never a problem in automation, because unlike people there's no reason to measure some things in inches and other in miles -- you can measure everything in inches and just have very large numbers of inches. Even in SI units there will still be complicated arithmetic when you combine different types of units. For example, I know how much mass my space probe has, and how fast it's spinning -- how much thrust is required, and for what period, to stop the spinning? That calculation is not simplified at all by using SI units, as all of the coefficents are just as complex as they are in US customary units.

Finally, kg/cm^2 *is* a valid unit of pressure if you're using kg-force and not kg-mass. Just as pounds is a valid unit of mass if you're using lbs-mass and not lbs-force. The naming is unfortunate if you move into non-near-earth locations, but given the relatively constant gravitational acceleration near the earth's surface there is no practical reason that that units of force and mass cannot be freely interchanged. If you're going to whine about the misapplication about kg as a force you should whine about the thousands of scales around the world that read units of grams, kg, or some other unit of mass while actually measuring the downward force applied by the mass.

Re:Units of Measurement (1)

cupofjoe (727361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756392)

Well, even if something like that did happen, I have the feeling nothing much would come of it down here. Each of THEMIS's probes (there are 5) is about the size of a largish television. Not very big; in fact, plenty small enough to mostly, if not completely, burn up on re-entry.

Besides which, they're also pretty light (i.e., low-mass). THEMIS was constructed out of low-magnetic susceptability materials (which, in this case, also happen to be low-mass) so that the probes wouldn't interfere with the local magnetic field. On-board sensors get higher sensitivity that way.

*disclaimer: I used to work for the folks that helped build THEMIS, so I guess I'm not impartial. Then again, $#@! happens.

-joe.

Title says M A G E N T I C (1)

itwasgreektome (785639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748842)

FYI title of article should read magnetic not magentic.

Intresting. (1)

alienuforia (1009777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748850)

THEMIS - Either way you say the word, your friends will laugh at you. Try it!

hmm.... (1)

DrKyle (818035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748876)

I would have preferred calling the mission "The Solar Windsock" but I guess that just blows.

Ooops... (0, Offtopic)

Liquid Len (739188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748886)

s/magentic/magenta/
There, fixed it for ya.

Magentic probe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748962)

It must be trying to detect ultraViolet waves.

This is all just leading up to a manned mission. (4, Funny)

Cappy Red (576737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17748986)

I heard that they were planning on sending a team led by Dr. Reed Richards to follow up on this project's findings. The team will consist of somewhere between three and five people.

What's a Magentic Storm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17748992)

What's a magentic Storm?

THEMIS (2, Funny)

QuasiRob (134012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17749090)

You just know they think up the name first (THEMIS), then think up words to make a vaguely sciencey phrase to fit it ( Time History of Events and Macroscale Interaction during Substorms ) and then have to sit around wondering what a mission with such a name would actually do. Quite clearly one of the people involved wanted a mission involving time travel but they just ended up with investigating solar wind storms.

Re:THEMIS (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17757858)

I don't know how common this is, but the one time I observed the birth of a new proposal, they made a list of relevant words to facilitate the acronym-finding process. Ideally, you want the acronym to bare some relation to the phenomenon of interest, but that isn't always the case (e.g., ANARChE [Aerosol Nucleation and Real-time Characterization Experiment]). Too bad they couldn't fit hygroscopicity or sulfates in there, since that's what they were really interested in. I've also seen a lot of "acronyms" that only use letters from something like half of the words involved. It drives me nuts, but I guess it's really hard to get funded if nobody can remember what your project is called.

Where the name THEMIS really comes from... (1)

Pchelka (805036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17759618)

From the THEMIS [berkeley.edu] web site:

Themis, the goddess of justice, wisdom and good counsel, the guardian of oaths in Greek mythology, represents the THEMIS mission. She will confirm without prejudice, as implied by her fame, one of the two competing theories for auroral eruptions. THEMIS, with her sword (representing instruments) and scales (representing science discoveries), has both power and impartiality.

Basically, the scientists chose this name because they are hoping their mission will help resolve some of the major controversies in magnetospheric physics thanks to it's advanced instruments and multi-spacecraft approach. They also probably realized it would make a good acronym. Thinking up a catchy acronym for a NASA mission is much harder than you think!

YONU FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17749112)

niggerness? And Here, but what is

Correction V2.0 (0, Offtopic)

Dogsbody_D (579981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17749594)

What's a Magentic when it's at home? Is it related to Magellan?

Re:Correction V2.0 (1)

Dogsbody_D (579981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17752920)

What a waste of a modpoint. It's not offtopic, it's redundant. And funny. :P And the tagging beta still says magentic so nyaah.

Electrical? (1)

NotZed (19455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17749766)

Maybe they meant 'electrical storm', not 'magentic' ... magnetism is the direct, and only direct result of current flow. Must've forgotten their yr 12 physics.

Re:Electrical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17752722)

Actually they do mean magnetic, the Earth has a magnetic field (think compass). A magnetic storm is changes in the alignment of the magnetic field and the plasma trapped on the magnetic field lines. Plasma is not trapped on electric field lines, in fact electric fields accelerate plasmas driving currents. Magnetic field lines trap plasma.

Once again wikipedia to the rescue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm [wikipedia.org]

The moral here is imagine that you didn't learn everything there is to know in 12 grade ;)

Nope, i just don't see it happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17749894)

nope dudes i just don't see that happening! kardinal von muna, who claims that he's an expert of this matter told me that this just won't see the daylight.

Foreshadowing (1)

PreachersPoker (1032786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17750888)

THEMIS (pronounced thee mis)? Given NASA failure to hit the target, maybe Borealis Lights Identification Navigation Drone And Sensing Aura Borealis Array Battery (B.L.I.N.D.A.S.A.B.A.T) See there is a good joke...

Not to be confused with the Other THEMIS (2, Informative)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17752714)

But don't confuse this THEMIS with the Other THEMIS
http://themis.la.asu.edu/ [asu.edu]
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The THEMIS investigation is led by Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

STEREO just launched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17756232)

We just launched STEREO not too long ago and both satellites are imaging the Sun in a number of wavelengths. One of the points of the mission is to image coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are the source of the charged particles which cause aurora.

CMEs can cause serious trouble:
-fry power grids on Earth
-interfere with instruments/avionics on airplanes
-lethal radiation dosage for astronauts
-damage satellites
-...

Pretty fisheye image of an aurora from a CME in 2004.
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap041109.html [nasa.gov]

STEREO homepage:
http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

http://www.spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast07a pr_2m.htm [spacescience.com]

The Story of the Aurora and Electricity in Space (2, Informative)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17757902)

In any discussion of the aurora, one might expect that the name Kristian Birkeland might come up. After all, he was the first scientist to ever accurately describe the phenomenon. It's interesting to look back and see why it is that so few people know who Birkeland is.

Birkeland's paper on the aurora, based in part on his brave journey to Northern Norway through 24-hour darkness and temperatures low enough that he nearly died on the trip, marked the first time that anybody (specifically British scientists) decided to start ostracizing the concept of electricity in space. Their legacy of ridiculing electricity in space would continue on for generations to the present day.

The story of the rejection of electricity in space sounds strikingly similar to the situation that persists today when electricity is implicated in anything that has to do with our space observations. From Don Scott's The Electric Sky:

A particularly tenacious English mathematician, Sydney Chapman, who was interested in geomagnetism, continually denigrated Birkeland and criticized his work for half a century. Chapman's ideas about auroras involved the kinetic theory of neutral gases and a "dynamo" which he said was driven by tidal flows in Earth's ionosphere. Fifteen years after Birkeland's death, Chapman admitted that plasma from the Sun caused the auroras. But he continued to belittle Birkeland's work.

As late as 1967, Chapman said that Birkeland's "direct observational contributions to auroral knowledge were slight." An American scientist and electrical engineer, Alex Dessler, a former editor of the presigious journal, Geophysical Research Letters, questioned Chapman about Birkeland. "I asked him whether Birkeland's work had any influence on him at all. He glanced at me and said, 'How could it? It was all wrong.'"

With the advent of high altitude rockets and satellite technology, Birkeland's explanation of the aurora was found to be correct. Today Birkeland is acknowledged as having been the first scientist to accurately determine, through heroic observation in the field, laboratory experimentation, and theoretical description, the correct cause of the auroral displays -- electric current from the Sun flowing in plasma and causing that plasma to emit light.

[...]

Lucy Jago says of this pioneer, "Birkeland now has a crater on the Moon named after him, which, together with Birkeland Currents and the wider acceptance of his work, should prevent his memory from fading, but rejection of his theories probably slowed the advance of geomagnetic and auroral physics for nearly half a century."

Hannes Alfven also tried to convince Chapman of Birkeland's reasoning about the aurora:

One of the conflicts in early 20th Century astronomy was between Sydney Chapman and Hannés Alfvén. Alfvén, following Birkeland's lead, believed the auroras to be powered by charged particles from the Sun. Chapman developed a mathematically elegant theory showing that the auroras were generated entirely in the Earth's magnetosphere by buffeting of the solar wind. Chapman refused to give Alfvén's ideas a hearing. At conferences, rather than address particular points of the theory, Chapman would state that he and his colleagues disagreed with Alfvén and that a paper explaining it all was in process. On one occasion, when Chapman was a guest of Alfvén's in Sweden, Alfvén built a replica of Birkeland's terrella experiment, which produced auroras on a magnetized sphere suspended in a vacuum. Alfvén hoped that if Chapman could see how plasma behaves in the laboratory, he would be more amenable to discussing it. Chapman refused to look at the experiment.

Few people that ridicule Electric Universe Theory and Plasma Cosmology today realize that they follow in the footsteps of the confident Sydney Chapman. After all, how would they know about the story? Few people today, including NASA's discussion of this probe on their website, link the name Kristian Birkeland to the aurora.

Re:The Story of the Aurora and Electricity in Spac (1)

Pchelka (805036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17759510)

I really hate to nitpick here, since your post was one of the very few intelligent
ones in this dicussion. However, it is not a surprise to me that you could not find Kristian Birkeland's name mentioned anywhere on the THEMIS web site.

Birkeland's story just happens to be interesting enough that someone wrote a popular book about his arctic adventures. I have heard from several scientists that Lucy Jago's book about Birkeland is an interesting read, but that she does not get everything exactly right and there may be some exaggerations about certain events in the book. I have not read Lucy Jago's book, but I have looked at the orginal book that Birkeland published about his expeditions. While Birkeland was one of the first people to realize what the actual cause of the aurora borealis might be, he did not correctly understand all of the details. Since the dawn of the space age, scientists around the world have been using sounding rockets and satellites to better understand the processes that cause the aurora and fill in the details that Birkeland was unable to understand from his ground-based observations. Most of these people get very little credit or public acknowledgement of their work, even though they have advanced our understanding of the Sun, the Earth's magnetic field, the ionosphere, and the aurora significantly since Birkeland's time. Maybe it would have been nice if they had mentioned Birkeland on the THEMIS web site, but there are probably a lot of other notable space scientists that they didn't mention either.

Also, from what I know about THEMIS, I don't think that most scientists would actually describe it as an "auroral" mission. The perigees of the THEMIS satellites are about 1-2 Earth radii, which would be close enough to do auroral work if it was in a polar orbit. However, I thought that THEMIS was in a mainly equatorial orbit (someone please correct me if I'm wrong!). The apogees of the THEMIS satellites are between 12 and 34 Earth radii which put them in a great position to study a region of the Earth's magnetosphere called the magnetotail. Some pretty interesting processes that ultimately result in energy being dumped into the Earth' ionosphere during auroral displays start in the magnetotail. Unfortunately, while thinking about things like magnetic reconnection, magnetic field dipolarizations, current disruption, and substorm current systems gets anyone with a Ph.D. in plasma physics excited, they probably don't mean much of anything to the general public. These topics are not exactly covered in high school science courses, or even most college science courses, as they require a lot of math. The people who put together the NASA press releases and the THEMIS outreach site probably decided to focus on the things that a lay person might understand and would be interested in, which are the connections between the magnetic field and the aurora. A lot of people don't even know about the aurora borealis because they have never seen it themselves. I'm sure that the THEMIS team (and the people involved with any other mission of this type) found it was pretty hard to explain the mission science and why it is important to the public because the general public really knows very little at all about this sort of thing.

Re:The Story of the Aurora and Electricity in Spac (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17761152)

Your point is very well taken. In researching the publications on this mission, I noticed myself that it was really difficult to understand what was the real purpose of the mission. I remain quite confused.

I'm interested in something else that you mentioned ...

Some pretty interesting processes that ultimately result in energy being dumped into the Earth' ionosphere during auroral displays start in the magnetotail. Unfortunately, while thinking about things like magnetic reconnection, magnetic field dipolarizations, current disruption, and substorm current systems gets anyone with a Ph.D. in plasma physics excited, they probably don't mean much of anything to the general public.

I'm specifically interested in what you think of magnetic reconnections. I'm not a physicist, but I spend a lot of time trying to understand issues related to electricity and plasma in space. Don Scott devotes an entire chapter in his book to the concept of magnetic reconnections and his arguments against the science of reconnections seems strong. I obviously cannot excerpt an entire chapter, but I was wondering what you think of the science behind it. It's interesting to me that Alfven was so against the idea and yet it's such a mainstream concept today. What did Alfven see that others today do not? Or to the contrary, what observations have been made since that have confirmed the idea?

Flying through an Aurora Borealis (1)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 6 years ago | (#17765388)

Did no one ever watch Farscape? Wormholes, baby. Slingshot to another galaxy. Sounds like a wicked ride to me.
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