How space weather can ruin NASA’s return to the moon

Yes, there is time in the void. The surface of the sun explodes with gas and plasma, releasing trapped particles (protons, electrons, and heavy ions) into the remaining solar system millions of miles per hour. These fragments can attack the Earth and the moon in just a few minutes. The Earth’s magnetic field saves us from them, but they can still be fragments fry the electronics and power grids on top and damaged critical satellites handling GPS and telecommunication services.

Space time can be the most dangerous for any astronauts flying to the moon or trying to survive and work in a moon hall above. Life -supporting systems and power can be disrupted, and solar activity can generate life -threatening radiation levels. “Between Apollo 16 and 17,” says Owens, “there was a huge space event that can be deadly if the astronauts were still on the moon at that hour. ”

Every 11 years, the sun’s magnetic field rotates – the trading areas to the north and south – and the solar activity rises and falls. You might think it’s wiser to launch during the day’s minimum, but that’s not the case, because small points of activity on the sun often mean there’s a lot of exposure to galactic cosmic rays (space radiation coming from outside the solar system).

Moreover, the different space time patterns we predicted later were related to slow and moderate events, which did not endanger mission crews. But severe solar storms – the kind that can ruin a lunar mission – do happen. Daghan, such as the tragic incident of 1859 Carrington, occurs at a time when the activity of the day seems short. And these serious events are rare, making them difficult to study.

To strengthen the analysis of the little data available, Owens and his team created models of the probability of severe space weather based on 150 years of records of solar activity. These models mimic different frequencies of severe storms – one of them is triggered by flash, another increases the probability of solar maxima, and so on.

After thousands of simulations, the researchers have enough data to determine which types of scenarios are best suited to what is currently known about how the sun moves. They know that severe weather in space follows the same pattern as moderate weather: activity is longer during a maximum day than a minimum, and severe events are more prevalent. possibility of strong solar cycles than more weak ones.

And there’s also an interesting nugget that’s unique to severe events: it tends to happen a little later in the no-nonsense cycles of the day than either.

We just started solar cycle 25 in December 2019. The largest day is most expected to occur in 2023–2029, so the maximum time for space time should be marked. “But because it’s a strange cycle, the probability of severe space weather is highest until the end of that window-let’s say, 2026–2029,” Owens said.

The authors say the increased risk makes it unsafe to fly moon missions at this time. “We don’t predict the time of every event,” Owens said. “So the best advice we can give is about the likelihood of encountering a serious event.” If a launch needs to be delayed until 2026, you may prefer to delay it even until 2030. Otherwise, mission planners need to make sure a spacecraft has the right hardware to protect the spacecraft. astronaut from a serious incident.

After all, it’s not like we can just get astronauts back from the moon by the time we already know that a bad solar storm is about to arrive. Today, our excellent warning system for space weather gives us an over a how many hours to how many days—And forecasts are even worse at predicting hurricane disasters.

Dan Baker, a researcher in the field of physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, thinks the study stands well, emphasizing that research like this “should be taken seriously and should be multiplied by [mission] planning. ”But he is not entirely confident that the statistical work of this investigation should be used as a recommendation for scrubbing any lunar mission between 2026 and 2029.“ The storm events in solar and solar energetic particles are a real danger for astronauts outside the protective envelope of the magnetosphere universe., ”he said.” However, I think precautionary measures can be taken to guard against effects of severe space weather. With an active and effective space weather operation and alert system, I believe threats can be managed. ”Hazards can be tested if there are, say, an early warning system in space weather that observes throughout the day 24/7, and a module in a spacecraft or lunar outpost that can specifically protect astronauts from casualties bo.

Even if a catastrophic event can be extraordinary, it can be explained by the difference between life and death on a moon mission. If NASA and others are willing to do that risk remains to be seen.

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