SUN 360: Our Solar System’s Space Weather Watchdog

October 25, 2016 | 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Presented Online | Museum in Washington, DC
Free

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Human space travel is dangerous. We need to reduce that danger. Between the launch, the ship, and especially the landing systems, there’s plenty that can go wrong. But there is yet another danger: intense high-energy radiation from the Sun. It’s always there, but every so often, it intensifies drastically in a burst that can cause fatal damage to anything in the way that is not protected, human or electronic. The challenge: find ways to predict when these bursts will happen. 

NASA’s twin STEREO probes, launched in 2006, have advanced the art and science of space weather forecasting. By monitoring the Sun from widely different angles simultaneously, they provide early warnings of explosive events on the Sun as they develop on the solar far side. These explosive events may pose threatening conditions for both earth-bound commerce and national security, as well as orbiting satellites and probes, both robotic and human-tended.

On October 25 at 1:00 pm in our Moving Beyond Earth gallery, join scientists and scientist-astronaut John Grunsfeld for a series of dramatic presentations celebrating STEREO and efforts to predict space weather: 

Welcome (Video Presentation)
Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate

Sun 360: Overview
Madhulika Guhathakurta, STEREO Program Scientist, NASA Science Mission Directorate

Our Sun in STEREO:  Perspectives
Barbara J. Thompson, solar physicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Sciences and Exploration Directorate, will discuss the importance of a new perspective of seeing the Sun in 3D.

Surviving the Solar Tantrums
Five-time space shuttle flown astronaut and former NASA Associate Administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate John J. Grunsfeld will discuss why, with space weather, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Tour through the Sun’s Domain: Planetary Impacts
Janet G. Luhmann, senior fellow at Space Sciences Laboratory, Berkeley, and a STEREO mission Principal Investigator, will talk about solar impact on other planets, comets, and asteroids.

Cloudy with a Chance of Magnetic Solar Storm: Space Weather Forecasting
“The Space Weather Woman” Tamitha M. Skov, a research scientist at The Aerospace Corporation, will discuss using STEREO to do real time forecasting of space weather, here, there, and everywhere.

Panel Discussion and Q&A
The panelists will discuss how STEREO has shaped and guided our development of future studies and missions. Moderated by National Air and Space Museum senior curator David DeVorkin.

Attend in person in the Moving Beyond Earth gallery, or watch the webcast on Air and Space Live.

This program is made possible through the generous support of Boeing.

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