Episode 196. Monday the 12th of May 2014.
Hosts: Jen, Paul, Shah
Title: Shah Sez CME’s Ain’t Good For You!
From the history of the exploration of Venus (and its challenges) to the excitement of Apollo 10 and Skylab, tonight’s show starts out local but heads for the uncharted regions of a simulated universe. We then work our way back to the siblings of the Sun and the expectation to find more of the Sun’s family in the not too distant future. Finally, we discuss the implications of a direct hit from a monster CME similar or worse than the Carrington event of 1859 or the recent event from July 2012. With our newest host Shah and Jen’s first time at the controls, it is a show not to be missed!
Our newest Team member …
Hey everyone! This is Shah. I completed my undergraduate degree in Space Engineering at York University. York is like a second home for me, which is why I decided to pursue my Master’s in Space Science under the supervision of Professor Michael Daly.
This week in space/astronomy history:
1. May 16th 1969: the USSR Venus Atmosphere Probe Venera 5 arrived at Venus (launched January 5, 1969). Atmospheric data returned suggested an atmosphere comprising 93-97% CO2, 2-5% Nitrogen, and less than 4% Oxygen. Data was returned all the way down to 26km from surface, but the probe was crushed by the pressure thereafter.
2. May 17th 1969: Venera 6 arrived at Venus! (launched January 10, 1969). Its data, in conjunction with that of Venera 5, provided the atmospheric composition of Venus. It too was crushed by the atmospheric pressure of Venus, but managed to reach 11km from its surface.
3. May 18th 1969: USA Manned lunar orbiter Apollo 10 was launched (May 18th – 26th). Crew was Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan, and John Young. This was the 4th manned mission. This was a key mission as it served as a “dress-rehearsal” for the infamous lunar landing of Apollo 11.
4. Happy Birthday Richard Feynman! Born May 11, 1918 (died Feb 15, 1988) – Theoretical physicist known for his work in quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. This Nobel Prize winner developed the Feynman diagram, which is a representation of mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles. He also assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing. He popularized physics through books and lectures.
5. Skylab 1 – Launched May 14, 1973. Immediately after being launched by a Saturn V booster, technical problems developed due to vibrations during liftoff. Its meteoroid shield ripped off taking one of the space craft’s solar panels with it. As a result, the launch of Skylab 2, the “rescue mission”, was postponed.
York Observatory Logbook: Richard
– Science Rendezvous
1. Astronomers Find Our Sun’s Long-Lost Sibling: HD 162826. Suggested Reading: SpaceRef, Discovery News. Our Sun’s long-lost sibling has been found! Astronomer Ivan Ramirez, from University of Texas at Austin, along with his team of researchers managed to find a star born from the same cloud of gas and dust as the Sun. This star, HD 162826, is 15% more massive than our own and location 110 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. The team performed in depth studies of 23 possible candidates, found by other groups around the world, using the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory, and the Clay Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. High-resolution spectroscopy was used to understand the star’s composition.
Not only is the chemistry of a star crucial for determining whether or not it’s our Sun’s solar sibling, but so is its dynamics. Orbital information outlining the trajectory of the star around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, combined with the chemical analysis, narrowed the candidates down to HD 162826. This study by Ramirez has the purpose of providing a way to identify solar siblings. He notes the importance of analyzing highly variable chemical elements such as barium and yttrium, that are dependent on where in the milky way galaxy the star formed. Ultimately this is the key factor in determining whether or not a set of stars were originally born from the same cloud and within the same cluster.
2. Astronomers Create First Realistic Virtual Universe. Suggested Reading: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Phys Org
Astronomers recreated 13 billion years of cosmic evolution, something that has never been done before on both a large and small scale. The development of this simulation took five years and over 8,000 CPU’s running in parallel to create. The computer simulation begins 12 million years after the Big Bang and reaches the present day, with over 41,000 galaxies. It recreated large-scale structures like galaxy clusters and voids of the cosmic web. But it also, on a small scale, accurately recreates chemistries of individual galaxies.
3. Russia to Begin Moon Colonization in 2030. Suggested Reading: Voice of Russia
Russia plans to colonize the Moon by 2030 and the first stages of this very ambitious project may start in two years. This “Russian Lunar Program” has a three-step plan toward manning the moon. It’s 1st step will be to send four rovers to the moon starting from 2016 (cost almost $816 million). In the 2nd stage of the mission, Russia plans to send manned missions to the moon’s orbit. The 3rd and final stage is planned for 2030 to 2040, which includes a visit by cosmonauts to a selected site on the surface of the moon to start the set up of the base infrastructure.
Major Topics Discussed:
Carrington-Level CME Narrowly Missed Earth
Suggested Reading: Science @ NASA,
This past April, scientists gathered for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Workshop to discuss the dangers of solar storms. Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado presented a talk regarding the major solar eruptive event in July of 2012. During the event on July 23rd of 2012, CMEs blasted away from the sun with a velocity of 3000 km/s. Typical eruptions average speeds of approximately 500 km/s. The CMEs tore through Earth’s orbit, luckily missing Earth. The CMEs hit the STEREO-A spacecraft and the data has been analyzed ever since. Researchers have concluded that this event is one of the strongest in recorded history, and quite possibly stronger than the Carrington Event of 1859.
The Carrington Event was observed by amateur astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington in 1859. A series of powerful CMEs hit Earth and caused the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) to extend all the way down south to Tahiti. Telegraph lines, which were the common form of communication at the time, sparked and set offices ablaze. Had the event from 2012 hit Earth directly, the effect on modern power grids and communication networks would have been catastrophic. The impact would have exceeded $2 trillion worth of damage. Richard Carrington’s astronomical observations are what demonstrated the existence of solar flares. Also important, his observations of sunspot activity led to the demonstration of the Sun’s differential rotation.
Thanks for listening!
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