The Sun is the star in our neighborhood. It has always been a part of the human story - our daily lives, the annual cycle of the seasons, and a significant part of our history. We cannot live without it, and at times, we can’t live with it! Join Chuck Holmes to learn about NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and why it is so important to our understanding of solar phenomena and how the Probe survives its close encounters with our star. This past summer, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe which, over the next seven years, will travel to the Sun and graze its outer atmosphere many times, taking measurements about the origins of the solar wind. Along its journey the satellite will approach to within 3.85 million miles of the Sun’s surface, traveling as fast as 430,000 mph - becoming the fastest man-made object!
This presentation will first discuss the Sun: what it is made of and how it works. What is the eleven-year cycle of sun spots? What are solar flares and the solar wind? How does the sun spawn the auroras high in our atmosphere as well as other “space weather” effects here on Earth? Why is Parker Solar Probe so important to our understanding of these phenomena and how will the Probe survive its close encounters with our star?
From 1997 to 2008 Dr. Charles Holmes was the director of NASA’s Heliophysics Great Observatory (HPGO), a suite of operating science missions observing the sun, the interplanetary solar wind and their interactions with the Earth and other planets.