Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.
By: Susie77, 1:50 AM GMT on June 21, 2008
Wish I had had my camera along tonight. As I headed north on Hwy 79 to go home, several vehicles were pulled off on the side of the hwy. approaching the bridge over the Cuivre River. People were out of the vehicles, all looking to the east. I slowed to see why. There were 50-60 deer -- moms, dads, kids -- all carefully picking their way along the raised RR tracks there that parallel Hwy 79. On the yonder side of the tracks, the Cuivre had flooded the fields and woods and forced them to seek higher ground. So they did. The whole tribe was headed to the south.
About 3 miles north I encountered a Fox News van pulled over, boom with sat dish extended. I pulled over and knocked on the door and mentioned the very cool photo op to be had just down the road. The guy said he was watching a video and his photographer was gone, but thanks for the info.
Nuther reason we don't watch their news broadcasts. ;)
By: Susie77, 8:54 PM GMT on June 18, 2008
Remember that old Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times? Lotta truth to it. My little town (Winfield MO) is under the gun again -- last time was 1993. The Mississippi river is expected to crest at slightly above the record level it reached that year. We have news choppers flying over and news vans on the ground, National Guard vehicles rolling by, *real* Humvees parked at the high school along with the Red Cross command post -- and hundreds of perfect strangers sweating in the sun to make sandbags to save the property of people they will never meet. Today I met college students, high school kids, young folks in the National Guard, moms/dads with their kids, inmates from the county jail, firefighters and paramedics, working people (like me) who burned some vacation time to come lend a hand, people who drove the 50+ miles from St. Louis just to help out a little town they probably never heard of till this week.
All I can say is thanks, you guys.
Winfield Lock and Dam #25, courtesy of Chopper Five, News Channel Five, KSDK St Louis MO
Update -- This just posted on the Winfield-Foley Fire Protection District site:
LINCOLN COUNTY EMERGENCY OPERATIONS HAVE SUSPENDED SANDBAGGGING EFFORTS AT WINFIELD
The Lincoln County Emergency Operations Command announced at 2:00 pm today the sandbagging effort behind Winfield High School is suspended. The Army National Guard has completed 95 percent of the missions to fortify Lincoln County’s secondary levees. All 2,125 tons of sand has found its way into bags and either sitting on a secondary levee or stockpiled to respond to breaches or overtopping.
The Emergency Operations Command would like to thank the volunteers who have responded to bag over 4.5 million pounds of sand over the past three days. We are truly grateful for helping us save many of our townships in eastern Lincoln County.
Updated: 8:47 PM GMT on June 20, 2008
By: Susie77, 2:21 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
NWS is predicting near-record high Mississippi River levels for where I live -- Winfield, MO. High in 1993 was 39.9. They are predicting 39 feet for us come June 23. Our home is safe --high up on a bluff. But our main highway to work/school is Highway 79. It was shut down in '93 due to high water. I'm pretty sure that will happen again since nothing has been done in the last 15 yrs. to raise it. Closure means that a 40-minute trip to work/college turns into an hr. and a half drive -- one way.
We can't change weather or Mother Earth. I do hope though that you folks out there will send us some prayers, and send some help especially to the people in Iowa who are really suffering right now. If you live close and can help sandbag or help folks move out, please do. The Salvation Army has stood by people in all kinds of natural disasters, for as long as it takes. Please consider helping them out.
By: Susie77, 10:08 PM GMT on June 10, 2008
(I heard it was really hot there.....)
NASA Plans to Visit the Sun
June 10, 2008: For more than 400 years, astronomers have studied the sun from afar. Now NASA has decided to go there.
"We are going to visit a living, breathing star for the first time," says program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters. "This is an unexplored region of the solar system and the possibilities for discovery are off the charts."
The name of the mission is Solar Probe+ (pronounced "Solar Probe plus"). It's a heat-resistant spacecraft designed to plunge deep into the sun's atmosphere where it can sample solar wind and magnetism first hand. Launch could happen as early as 2015. By the time the mission ends 7 years later, planners believe Solar Probe+ will solve two great mysteries of astrophysics and make many new discoveries along the way.
The probe is still in its early design phase, called "pre-phase A" at NASA headquarters, says Guhathakurta. "We have a lot of work to do, but it's very exciting."
Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab (APL) will design and build the spacecraft for NASA. APL already has experience sending probes toward the sun. APL's MESSENGER spacecraft completed its first flyby of the planet Mercury in January 2008 and many of the same heat-resistant technologies will fortify Solar Probe+. (Note: The mission is called Solar Probe plus because it builds on an earlier 2005 APL design called Solar Probe.)
At closest approach, Solar Probe+ will be 7 million km or 9 solar radii from the sun. There, the spacecraft's carbon-composite heat shield must withstand temperatures greater than 1400o C and survive blasts of radiation at levels not experienced by any previous spacecraft. Naturally, the probe is solar powered; it will get its electricity from liquid-cooled solar panels that can retract behind the heat-shield when sunlight becomes too intense. From these near distances, the Sun will appear 23 times wider than it does in the skies of Earth.
The two mysteries prompting this mission are the high temperature of the sun's corona and the puzzling acceleration of the solar wind:
Mystery #1—the corona: If you stuck a thermometer in the surface of the sun, it would read about 6000o C. Intuition says the temperature should drop as you back away; instead, it rises. The sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, registers more than a million degrees Celsius, hundreds of times hotter than the star below. This high temperature remains a mystery more than 60 years after it was first measured.
Mystery #2—the solar wind: The sun spews a hot, million mph wind of charged particles throughout the solar system. Planets, comets, asteroids—they all feel it. Curiously, there is no organized wind close to the sun's surface, yet out among the planets there blows a veritable gale. Somewhere in between, some unknown agent gives the solar wind its great velocity. The question is, what?
"To solve these mysteries, Solar Probe+ will actually enter the corona," says Guhathakurta. "That's where the action is."
The payload consists mainly of instruments designed to sense the environment right around the spacecraft—e.g., a magnetometer, a plasma wave sensor, a dust detector, electron and ion analyzers and so on. "In-situ measurements will tell us what we need to know to unravel the physics of coronal heating and solar wind acceleration," she says.
Solar Probe+'s lone remote sensing instrument is the Hemispheric Imager. The "HI" for short is a telescope that will make 3D images of the sun's corona similar to medical CAT scans. The technique, called coronal tomography, is a fundamentally new approach to solar imaging and is only possible because the photography is performed from a moving platform close to the sun, flying through coronal clouds and streamers and imaging them as it flies by and through them.
With a likely launch in May 2015, Solar Probe+ will begin its prime mission near the end of Solar Cycle 24 and finish near the predicted maximum of Solar Cycle 25 in 2022. This would allow the spacecraft to sample the corona and solar wind at many different phases of the solar cycle. It also guarantees that Solar Probe+ will experience a good number of solar storms near the end of its mission. While perilous, this is according to plan: Researchers suspect that many of the most dangerous particles produced by solar storms are energized in the corona—just where Solar Probe+ will be. Solar Probe+ may be able to observe the process in action and show researchers how to forecast Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events that threaten the health and safety of astronauts.
Solar Probe+'s repeated plunges into the corona will be accomplished by means of Venus flybys. The spacecraft will swing by Venus seven times in six years to bend the probe’s trajectory deeper and deeper into the sun’s atmosphere. Bonus: Although Venus is not a primary target of the mission, astronomers may learn new things about the planet when the heavily-instrumented probe swings by.
"Solar Probe+ is an extraordinary mission of exploration, discovery and deep understanding," says Guhathakurta. "We can't wait to get started."