A week or so ago, in “Ice Age Predictions are premature“, I discussed some speculation resulting from observations of the current solar cycle end. However it’s undeniable that we’re learning a lot about the operation of the sun that we didn’t know. Just two years ago, NASA’s solar physicists were predicting that the next solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24, would be a very active one, and the first sunspot of the new cycle, in January. 2008 (recognizable because of its location and reversed polarity) was greeted by the Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel as conforming to their predictions. But sunspots since then, apart from a few stragglers from Cycle 23, have been extremely sparse, defying predictions. Something unusual is definitely happening, although the current solar minimum is far, far from matching the decades-long minima of former centuries as yet. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, NASA and ESA have announced a teleconference for Tuesday, 23 September, 2008, about recent solar measurements from the two agencies’ joint Ulysses mission. The solar wind is apparently at a 50-year low. “The sun’s current state”, they report, “could result in changing conditions in the solar system.” The briefing will be held at 0630 GMT (1230 EDT), Tuesday. The panelists are Ed Smith, Dave McComas, and Karine Issautier of the Ulysses project, and Nancy Crooker of Boston University.
Filed under: science | Tagged: dave mccomas, ed smith, esa, karen issautier, nancy crooker, nasa, solar cycle 24, solar system, solar wind, space, space exploration, sunspots, the sun, ulysses, unmanned spaceflight |