Public Lectures

Solar Probe and the Solar Wind: The First Mission to our Nearest Star

Published on May 2, 2012

Speaker:Dr. David Malaspina
Date:Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Time:7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:LSTB-299, Auditorium

Seminar Abstract:

Scheduled to launch in July 2018, Solar Probe Plus is a unique and challenging mission that will send a spacecraft closer to the Sun than ever before with the goal of answering fundamental questions about how the Sun interacts with the solar system (The Big Questions). Dr. Malaspina will present the basics of the solar wind and discuss the The Big Questions that motivate Solar Probe Plus: What processes heat and accelerate the solar wind during its journey from the Sun to Earth’s orbit? What processes energize bursts of solar energetic particles, which are dangerous to both spacecraft and astronauts? What is the interplanetary dust environment close to the Sun? He will describe the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, including its scientific instruments, challenges to its survival (including temperatures up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and its orbit (including an explanation of the ‘Plus’). Finally, he will describe how measurements of electric and magnetic fields in the solar wind by Solar Probe Plus can help answer The Big Questions.

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