We must get back to the moon quickly before solar storms – –

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We must get back to the moon quickly before solar storms – –


As the next human missions to the moon become clearer, astronomers are starting to worry about solar storms. The sun is expected to be operational very soon, which will be crucial for astronauts.

The sun has its own rhythm. Depending on the tempo of the different cycles, it alternates between periods of more or less dense activity, all ending here and there with a few solar storms, the most violent of which are considered intense and unpredictable. But as it becomes more and more believable to see humans on the Moon or Mars, it’s time to worry that its events have serious repercussions.

A study has been published Solar physics May 20, 2021 confirms for the first time that these extraordinary storms are in fact unpredictable. Unfortunately, they fall right next to human lunar missions.

Researchers at the University of Reading near London analyzed 150 years of observational data from the sun. In a century and a half, the magnetic field has caused significant changes in our galaxy, especially in (known) cycles with an average duration of eleven years. In each of these cycles, there is a period of peak activity with a large number of sunny places Visible on the surface, a period of calm.

« We have a lot of observations on small incidents, Lead author Matthew Owens tells Numerama. We can clearly see how they follow the 11 year cycles. But for more serious cases, observations are by definition rare. »

We will be present in cycle 25 from the end of 2019. This is the second phase of the cycle, so between 2025 and 2030 we are more likely to have a large scale solar storm.

Protect yourself from the sun

Radiation protection solutions exist or are being considered. One way is to study storms, determine the expected intensity, and build objects that can survive this level of magnetic flux. It is expensive in terms of research for construction, but there is no need to predict the nature of the sun.

Another solution would be Coronal Mass Discharge (CEM) Monitor It takes four days to reach Earth, giving it time to defend itself. But their strength depends on the Sun’s internal magnetic field and can only be measured when it explodes on Earth.

Finally, the final solution is simple to implement: it consists in being more careful at certain periods of the solar cycle. As for the bizarre cycles, the sun is at its peak in the second half, and even for them it’s a dangerous start. On the other hand, it can apply to more intensive apurvavumaya events?

The rarity of these events is a problem. Extreme events which fortunately (fortunately) pose problems for which reliable statistics cannot be established. The eruption of 1859 Mainly known as akramasaktamanenn. There was a storm in 1921 that reportedly occurred during a period of calm solar activity. In 2003 and later in 2011, a level exploded that was rarely reached. Very little. ” It would take hundreds of years of observation “, Say the authors of the study. ” good that, specifies Matthew Owens, mFrom there, we were able to use statistical models to find out when these events are likely to occur. In short, they are more likely on longer cycles.. »

Skin cancer and short circuit

According to their forecasts, we are in a long cycle favorable to the emergence of major events before the end of 2020. In other words, when humans arrive on the moon according to the schedule of the Artemis program. The consequences can be dramatic.

The first problem concerns the astronauts themselves. While in space, they are already subjected to significant amounts of radiation, which is much higher than what Earth can tolerate. Even if the damage is much less than that of the International Space Station, the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field allows the still. This will not happen on the moon, and will dramatically increase the risk of cancer for these explorers.

Another concern, perhaps even more serious: a solar storm can damage electrical equipment. Thus, the eruption of 1859 became known as the Carrington event (because it was studied by astronomer Richard Carrington) and caused electric shocks and fires of electric origin among telegraph operators. Today’s electrical equipment is important, the damage is much greater than, for example, in all matters relating to the network satellite systems of the guidelines. Lots of very important equipment in the middle of a space mission! ” Solar cycles have never been a problem during the last manned missions to the Moon, déplore Matthew Owens. Suddenly, a huge solar storm struck between Apollo 16 and 17.. »

Should the study forecasts for future humanitarian missions be taken into account? ” Hard to say, The researcher agrees. Our predictions are completely experiential, and the physics of the sun is still very poorly understood, which will amaze us. Our advice is to avoid big escapes and overtime. For example between 2026 and 2030. But anyway, there is no zero risk! »

Currently, there are two missions to monitor the sun: the Parker probe, Solar Orbiter. Both can improve our knowledge of our star and help us better predict its future behavior.

Photo credit of a:
Flickr / CC / NASA / Goddard / SDO (cropped photo)

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