Sun’s output diminishes: NASA

NASA’s spacecraft Ulysses has a polar orbit around the Sun, and is monitoring its output of cosmic rays.  The rays appear to have fallen off recently.  Combine that with the lack of sunspots this year (which is pretty odd in itself) and you have to get a little worried.  Why?  Because our climate is inextricably linked to the Sun. One has to wonder: are we about to plunge into a period of substantial global COOLING?  If we are, then that is something to be feared considerably more than the global warming we are all so familiar with. Ice Ages are triggered quickly, and we are arguably in the middle of an interglacial period at the moment.

Not trying to scare you, or anything, though.

NASA Press Release: ” Data from the Ulysses spacecraft, a joint NASA-European Space Agency mission, show the sun has reduced its output of solar wind to the lowest levels since accurate readings became available. The sun’s current state could reduce the natural shielding that envelops our solar system.“The sun’s million mile-per-hour solar wind inflates a protective bubble, or heliosphere, around the solar system. It influences how things work here on Earth and even out at the boundary of our solar system where it meets the galaxy,” said Dave McComas, Ulysses’ solar wind instrument principal investigator and senior executive director at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Ulysses data indicate the solar wind’s global pressure is the lowest we have seen since the beginning of the space age.”

The sun’s solar wind plasma is a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun’s upper atmosphere. The solar wind interacts with every planet in our solar system. It also defines the border between our solar system and interstellar space. This border, called the heliopause, surrounds our solar system where the solar wind’s strength is no longer great enough to push back the wind of other stars. The region around the heliopause also acts as a shield for our solar system, warding off a significant portion of the cosmic rays outside the galaxy.

“Galactic cosmic rays carry with them radiation from other parts of our galaxy,” said Ed Smith, NASA’s Ulysses project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “With the solar wind at an all-time low, there is an excellent chance the heliosphere will diminish in size and strength. If that occurs, more galactic cosmic rays will make it into the inner part of our solar system.”

Reference: NASA “Ulysses Reveals Global Solar Wind Plasma Output At 50-Year Low” 23/9/08, http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/sep/HQ_08241_Ulysses.html with thanks to Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by andylloyd on September 24, 2008.

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