Magnetic supergranules (30,000 kilometers in diameter) make a mosaic
of the Sun's disk in ionized calcium light. Credit: Gary Palmer.
Apr 20, 2010
Scientific research into the Sun's composition and behavior has lead to a new branch of astrophysics.
The Sun has been the subject of intense research by Electric Universe advocates. Books such as The Electric Sky by retired Professor of Electrical Engineering Don Scott, The Electric Universe by Dave Talbott and Wal Thornhill, and many other independent articles and peer-reviewed papers, have detailed a growing accumulation of data in support of the electrical connection between the Sun and its family of planets, especially Earth.
Over the last several years, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), along with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), have launched numerous scientific instruments into Earth orbit, as well as other more remote destinations in hope of detecting and analyzing the various ways the Sun's energy influences our planet
The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)
ACE is studying the charged particles streaming from the Sun, along with those arriving from deep space and beyond. ACE is in orbit around LaGrange point L1, where the Earth and Sun are in gravitational equilibrium. L1 provides ACE with an unobstructed view of the Sun's ionic wind, its magnetic field, and those particles emitted by the farthest galactic regions. ACE should remain operational until late in 2024.
Discovering the interaction between the solar wind and the magnetosphere is Cluster's primary goal. Four identical spacecraft are flying a tetrahedral formation in a highly elliptical Earth orbit. Cluster is currently collecting information about how solar wind particles enter the Earth's atmosphere through magnetic funnels at each pole. The four probes are also checking the solar wind's interaction with our magnetosphere, and the behavior of plasma in the magnetotail during auroral substorms.
Fast Auroral SnapshoT Satellite (FAST)
FAST is performing a number of functions, including an investigation into how electrons and ions are accelerated and form the aurora; whether parallel electric fields are causing the ions to accelerate, and how those fields are sustained; how radio waves and other emissions are created during the aurora; and how the accelerated ions couple to larger scale energy sources in Earth's magnetosphere.
The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX)
IBEX is set to discover how the solar wind interacts with the interstellar medium. IBEX is designed to investigate four fundamental questions: What is the global strength and structure of the termination shock? How are energetic protons accelerated at the termination shock? What are the global properties of the solar wind flow beyond the termination shock and in the heliotail? How does the interstellar flow interact with the heliosphere beyond the heliopause?
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
SOHO is probably the most familiar mission to readers of this page. It has been in orbit around LaGrange point L1 since December 1995. SOHO is equipped with 12 scientific instruments, among which are the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), and the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph Experiment (LASCO). Both devices have provided a wealth of images and data that confirm the Sun is accelerating charged particles through the means of a voltage drop extending outward from its surface.
The Hinode (Japanese for sunrise) was launched on September 22, 2006. The onboard X-ray telescope (XRT) and the EUV imaging spectrometer (EIS) are analyzing X-ray and ultraviolet light from the Sun in order to determine the heating mechanism and dynamics of the solar corona. Hinode hopes to resolve some key issues in heliophysics: Why does a hot corona exist above the cool atmosphere? What drives explosive solar flares? What creates the Sun's magnetic field?
Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO)
Two almost twin spacecraft—one flying in front of Earth in its orbit, the other following—are tracking the flow of energetic material that occasionally erupts from the Sun. So far, they have returned richly detailed information about Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) through their special 3D orientation in space. CMEs are the most powerful solar event in the Sun-Earth connection, yet space scientists know nothing about their origin or what causes them to form their complex structure. It is hoped that STEREO's 3D perspective will help them to understand their nature.
Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms (THEMIS)
The five spinning THEMIS probes contain comprehensive packages of plasma and field instruments needed to determine the cause of geomagnetic substorms. In April of 2009, NASA’s fleet of THEMIS satellites detected vast electrical tornadoes about 40,000 miles above the night side of Earth. Gigantic energized twisters, the size of the earth or larger, channel electrically charged particles at speeds of more than a million miles per hour along the ionosphere's twisted magnetic field, where they power the auroras.
With all of these instruments active at the present time, and 8 more satellites designated as space weather observatories scheduled for launch in the next five years, the opportunities for Electric Universe theories to be supported will continue to increase.
- Stephen Smith