Transcript for NASA Connect - Having A Solar Blast

[Melissa:] Hi, I am
Melissa Joan Hart.

You might know me as a
Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

[Actor:] Jus made up that stuff,


[Sabrina:] Oh, I get
it -- No, I don't.

[Actor:] Sabrina I am
not expert on magic,

but it looks to me like
you are under a spell.

[Sabrina:] Spell.

[Actor:] You are witch remember.

[Sabrina:] Oh my gosh,
you are right.

Hey, I never took a
shopping again --

[Melissa:] Although
I play a student

with some extra special
abilities, I am here to tell you

that in real life, there are
no short cuts to education.


[Actor:] I don't drive a stick.

[Sabrina:] You do now.

[Melissa:] Learning math, science

and technology will help you
work towards your dreams.

In this episode of NASA Connect,

you will learn how
awesome our sun really is.

You will observe NASA engineers
and researchers using math, science

and technology to explore
the sun-earth connection.

In your classroom you will
do a cool hands-on activity

as we chalk sun-solar cycles.

And using the instructional
technology activity,

you will explore the world
to discover even more

about the sun-earth connections.

So stay tuned as host
Jennifer Pulley and Dan

[inaudible] take you on another
exiting episode of NASA Connect.

[ Music ]

[Dan] Hi, welcome to NASA Connect.

The show that connects you to
math, science, technology and NASA.

I am Dan


[Jennifer:] And I
am Jennifer Pulley.

Welcome to the Maryland Science
Center here in Baltimore, Maryland,

home of the Hubble Space
Telescope National Visitor Center.

Today's show is about.

[Group:] The Sun.

[Jennifer:] Did you know
that it would take more

than one million earths to fill-up
the sun and get this more than 99%

of all matter in our solar
system is in the sun?

[Dan:] It only takes about 8
minutes, for light from the sun

to reach earth and its figures
of sun is - is only considered

in average sized star.

[Jennifer:] Here is
another interesting fact,

in 1989 the sun actually
knocked out power in Canada.

>> You mean that sun stopped
electricity on the earth.

[Dan:] That's right, we will
tell you later how it happened.

[Jennifer:] In the next half hour,

we hope to give you a better
appreciation for how the sun works.

How it affects us here on earth?

[Dan:] And how NASA
researches are studying the sun.

[Jennifer:] Right, but before
we continue there are few things

that teacher need to know.

First, teachers make sure
you have the lesson guide

for today's program.

It can be downloaded from
our NASA Connect website.

And that you will find a great
math based hands on activity

and a description of our
instructional technology component.

[Dan:] Zot, you want to
keep your eyes on Norbert

because every time you appear
for questions likes it,

[inaudible] from the lesson
guide and your brain ready

to answer the questions
he gives you.

[Jennifer:] Oh, and teachers, if
you are watching a taped version

of this program, every time
we see Norbert with a remote,

that's your queue to
pause the video tape

and discus the two part questions.

And now back to the sun.

Dan can you move on
my right please.

[Dan:] Oh sorry!

[Jennifer:] The sun
is our nearest star.

It provides us with
more of the light.

We all know that the sun is
important to life on earth,

but few of us have been
given a good description

of the sun and its composition.

[Dan:] Our Sun is an average
star so or to millions

of others in the universe.

But it's a big energy machine.

If you could capture the energy
to some produces in one second

that would supply the United
States with enough energy

for the next thirteen
billion years.

[Student:] Were does the
Sun's power come from?

[Jennifer:] Good question.

The basic energy source for the
Sun comes from nuclear fusion

and this is when mass
particles combine and tons

of energy is released.

The core or innermost part of
the sun is made of hydrogen.

The Sun is so dense and its size
is so large that light released

from the core takes about
one hundred thousand years

to make its away to the surface.

If the sun want to stop producing
energy today it would take a one

hundred thousand years
for significant effects

to be felt at the earth.

Scientist think there is
enough hydrogen on the sun

to continue producing energy
for another seven billion years.

[Dan:] For many centuries,
little is known about the sun.

However, in the early sixteen
hundred's Italian scientist

Galileo, used the telescope
to take a closer look at Sun,

he found darks spots

that occasionally appeared
engrafted across the sun.

He also noticed that the dark spots

on the sun surface were
constantly changing.

These are called sun spots.

[Student:] What are your sun spots.

[Dan:] Let's find out.

[Dan:] NASA

[inaudible] Dr Eric Christian
has some answers for us

at the Naval Observatory.

>> It's a blast.

[Dr Eric Christian:] Thanks Dan,
the sun is a fascinating place

and a brilliant object to observe.

We observe the sun through
telescopes like this one here

at the Naval Observatory
March at NDC.

But Satellite help us too, to get
a better understanding of the sun,

let's look its different parts.

The visible surface of the sun,
now which we can actually see

with human eye is
called the photosphere.

Temperatures here around six
thousand degrees Celsius.

The next two outer layers

of the sun's atmosphere called
chromosphere and the Corona.

The Corona is actually harder than
the Chromosphere at temperature

of one to two million
degree Celsius.

The Corona is visible to the naked
eye during the solar eclipses.

Remember the dark spot or sun
spots that Galileo studied

with his telescope; well some
spots are dark cool areas

for the suns surface with
charged particles are omitted.

The Sun's spot only looks dark
relative to the brightness

of the rest of the Sun.

But it's still pretty hot four
thousand degree Celsius hot.

The average sun spot is about
the same diameter of the Earth.

Sun's spot generates some

of the most violent
storms in the Solar System.

When a sun

[inaudible] we call
this a Solar Flare.

Solar Flare is some of the biggest
explosions in the Solar System.

When a Solar Flare occurs, gas
heat of more then tens of thousands

of degrees and energy
surpassing billions

of atomic bombs is
pulled out from the Sun.

Another type of explosion is
the CME or Corona mass ejection;

these explosions can with
beat speeds of million

of kilometers per hour and to
reach the Earth in just three days.

[ Music ]

>> For Solar Flares and
CME's can be very disruptive

to human activity on
earth and in space

as these storms we call them
Solar Storms travel to the Earth.

>> You know Dan just like
Meteorologist your satellites

to predict whether here on Earth.

NASA used satellites to
predict solar storms.

>> Wait a minute, you are saying
that in the future we will talk

about Solar Storms like we talk
about Storms here on earth.

>> We sure will.

>> Predicting the
storms in the future.

>> It's just in America things
are growing up inside sun spot.

There will be a high energy birth
of X-rays flowing from the sun

for you people on the Moon as

[inaudible] thousand will
come in handy at the force

to be hitting moon
based Norbert right now.

>> Solar storms have caused
disruptions in our communications

and power supplies for instant
in 1989, a solar storm knocked

out electric power Quebec Canada.

Six million homes were
without power for nine hours,

as result of magnetic solar storms.

Predicting solar storms has huge
benefits to us here on earth.

If power companies could
receive earlier storm alerts,

they could minimize
damage and power allergies.

>> So what is NASA doing to warn
us, about these solar storms

to learn more about the
sun-earth connection

and how would affect us I will
show you're really cool website can

you do it home or its school.

>> In the meantime
I'm going to help

to NASA Guided Space Flight
Centre, in Greenville Maryland.

To talk of astronomer Dr. Stan

[inaudible] he runs 'Ask
The Space Scientist"

with NASA's image
satellite program.

[ Music ]

>> What is so importance of
electromagnetic radiation,

how can satellites of
researchers monitor the same,

why is it important to track solar
storms as they approach the earth?

>> If you want to get it clear
view about the sun's doing,

you have to get above the earth

[inaudible] atmosphere.

So we use satellite to
go the data that we need

to understand how the sun works.

The sun radiates at all energy
levels; radiation is energy

that travels and spreads
out as it goes.

There are different
types of radiation,

let me show you visible light that
comes from the lamp in your house

or radio waves it come

from a radio station are
two types of radiation.

Other example of radiation are
microwaves that could pop corn

in few minutes infra red light

which restaurants use
to keep food warm.

Ultraviolet light which
causes our skin to burn,

X-rays which help doctors look
at the bones, and gamma rays

which are emitted from
radioactive materials.

So Jennifer lets apply this
information to the sun.

As Eric stated earlier the
photosphere emits energy primarily

in visible light, while the
lower coronny emits energy

in extreme ultraviolet light,
and the upper corony in x-rays.

By zeroing in on one
particular light energy,

we can study the various parts
of the sun and how they interact.

[Jennifer:] Okay doctor Almond
how can satellites help us

to monitor and observe the sun?

>> With satellite
technology you can,

look at the sun twenty
four hours a day.

We can put satellites outside
of the earths atmosphere

to collect valuable data
from the sun and to act

as early warning devices
against solar storms.

Three important satellites that
monitor the sun and provide us

with real time data are the
Soho, Ace, and Image satellites.

If you like to learn more about
the Soho satellite Dr. Terry

[inaudible] one of our researchers

of NASA Guard has
all the information.

[Jennifer:] Great,
great, Hey Terry.

[Terry:] Hi Jennifer,
Soho or the Solar

[inaudible] conservatory has
a dozen different instruments

which observe the sun twenty-four
hour of day without any

[inaudible] earth's atmosphere.

These instruments record the
activity of a solar corona,

the photosphere and even
study the sun's deep interior.

Solar has telescoped someone
to take pictures of the sun

and ultra-violet light.

Also Soho can give us a
two-three day early warning

of coming solar storms that can
effect you with its magnetic field.

That's really cool, thanks Terry.

>> Oh you welcome.

So what's next Dan.

[Dan:] The second satellite is ACE,

the advance composition explore
ace operates like an ocean gooey

that measure the density,
temperature, magnetism and speed

of the solar wind as it passes by.

If a solar storm is headed
are way ACE will detect it

and give us thirty-forty five
minutes warning that the storms is

about to hit the earth.

>> Cool. So how the NASA
research is done analyze

and interpret the data.

[Dan:] One way we can analyze and
interpret data is by graphing.

The graph shows the speed of
solar wind changing is it blows

by the ace satellite.

The title of this graph
is solar wind speed.

The horizontal axis or
x-axis represents the number

of day's in September of 2000.

And the vertical axis or y-axis
represents the speed of the wind

in kilometer per second.

[Jennifer:] Okay, Stan
it looks likes the speed

of the solar wind ranged

from three hundred fifty
kilometers per second

to eight hundred kilometer
per second during the month

of September.

[Stan:] You right Jennifer

on September the 18th the
solar wind reached speeds

of eight hundred kilometer
per second

or about one point seven
million miles an hour,

but most of the time the solar
wind averaged around four hundred

and fifty kilometer per second.

From the analysis of this graph we
can determine how long it took the

solar wind to reach
the earths atmosphere.

[Jennifer:] That's amazing
Stan, no beside Soho

and Ace you mention the
third satellite Image is

that the one you working with?

[Stan:] That's right Jennifer
Image which means Imager

from magneto sphere to
aurora global aspiration

and as the satellite it orbits the
earth and measures the locations

and changes and the
invisible clouds of particles

that surround the earth and space,
you probably already know one

of these cloud systems the

[inaudible] belts.

Astronauts and satellites
avoid these belts

because of the radiation hazard.

There is also a separate collection
particles call the ring current,

which appears and disappears
whenever the earth get lack

by a solar storm another one

of these clouds call the plasma
sphere is actually a part our own

atmosphere that extends over ten
thousand miles above the earth.

The Image satellite lets us
watch these different families

of clouds change.

Image helps us understand how
solar storms and cause problems

for our technology in
space and the health

of our astronauts
working there too;

more importantly it helps
scientist to improve our ability

to forecast space weather.

[Jennifer:] Wow!

I realized the sun was critical
to sustain life here on earth,

but I guess I never realized
the devastating effects

that sun have on us.

[Stan:] Its amazing Jennifer
solar storms have caused billions

of the dollars with the satellite
damage in the last twenty years.

They have caused blackouts
and will always be a hazard

for astronauts working in space
satellites like Solo Ace and image

under replacements will be our
only means of keeping track

when the next storm hits
earths magnetic field.

If students would like to learn
more about how the sun works

and about solar storms they can
visit the sunearthday website

interested all of by the sun
earth connection education form

collaboration with the
NASA office based science.

[Jennifer:] Thank so much Dr.


You know Dan has been working on
some web sites about the sun lets

[inaudible] up to.

>> Welcome to

[inaudible] you got a cool activity

on our NASA Connect website
help you for our problems

[inaudible] weather it's a PBL a
Problem Base Learning Activity.

Here is the problem you and your
class mate did try to solve.

You are the secretary of your club
have use the pager and cell phone.

Let your committee know about
the time for your next meeting

when no one responded you made
several calls to next day and found

that no one got your message.

You want to find out
what went wrong.

Go to Dance Domain on the NASA
Connect website, to find out more

about how to solve the problem.

You will also the link
to NASA Guarded Sun-earth

connection education forum.

Here you will find a lot of
great resources to help you

in your exploration one

of the resources is the
guide space weather.

In it you will see images and
information about such things

as sun spots or cycle, solar
flares auroras and more.

Check out the link to the
eclipse archive it gives detailed

information for all eclipses of the
sun and moon from 2001 through 2005

and teacher is an
excellent educators guys

that you can download
from the website.

This guide is designed to revived
educators for the quick reference

to materials and resources
that I will use

for understanding sun
and earth connection.

The web based activity I've
just talk about could be used

for collaborating with other NASA
Connect classing around the world.

[inaudible] has a website
that provides a meeting place

and collaborative tools that
over four million teachers

and student can use to connect
with other classmates and work

on projects like this together.

All you have to do is, have
your teacher create a profile

for your class.

Make sure to include the key
words NASA Connect in you profile.

By using e-power search tool,

your teacher can easily find
other NASA Connect classrooms.

You will also find free teacher
monitored e-mail for students

as well as collaborative tools
like moderated discussion boards

and chat rooms.

That's it from my demand; now back
to the Maryland Science Center.

>> Okay, let's reveal.

We learned about the
basic parts of the sun,

we've learnt how research
scientists say the sun

with different types
of light radiation.

>> We've also learned
that satellite provide us

with this information.

>> Right, but what if we
could see the events leading

up to solar storms.

Doctor Michelle Larsen from
the University of California

at Berkeley has the scoop.

>> What is the goal that
they had seen satellite?

>> One is solar flare
occur on the sun.

>> How do solar flares have their
right effect on earth's atmosphere?

[Michelle Larson:] Hi,
I am Michelle Larson

and I am Astrophysicist.

An Astrophysicist is a researcher
who studies physics in space.

I am here at

[inaudible] Space in
California with the

[inaudible] satellite.

Let's take a look.

[inaudible], or high energy solo
spectroscopic imager is designed

to learn more about the
basic physical processes

that occur in solar flares.

Teams of Astrophysicist and
engineers worked together

to decide what kinds
of observations

[inaudible] will make and what kind

of scientific instrumentation
will be required.


[inaudible] teams will achieve
their goals by taking pictures

of solar flares in the X-ray
and gamma rays radiation range.

>> What is the solar flare?

[Michelle Larson:] Well,
remember when Eric told you

that solar flares are the biggest
explosions in the solar system.

A solar flare occurs when
magnetic energy that builds

up in the solar atmosphere
is suddenly released.

Charged particles such
as electrons, protons

and heavy ions travel away from
the sun along magnetic field lines.

Others move towards the surface
of the sun and in an X-ray

and gamma rays radiation
as they slow down.

Flares produce all forms of
radiation from radio waves

and visible light to
X-rays and gamma rays.


[inaudible] solar flares.

>> The biggest flares are
as powerful as billions

of hydrogen bombs
exploding at the same time.

We still don't know what
triggers them or how they release

so much energy in
such a short time.

But solar flares have
a direct effect

on the earth's upper atmosphere.

For instance long distance radio
communications can be disrupted

by the effective flares on the


It is the part of the
earth's atmosphere.

In addition, energetic particles
accelerated in solar flares

that escaped into inner
planetary space are dangerous

to astronauts outside
the protection

of the earth's atmosphere
and magnetic field and also

to electronic instruments in space.

>> Where do solar flares occur?

>> Solar flares occur
in the solar atmosphere.

>> Inside a flare, the temperature
is roughly ten times hotter

than the corona and can be as high

as a hundred million
degree Celsius.

The frequency of solar
flares varies

with the eleven year solar cycle.

At solar minimum very
few flares occur.

As the sun approaches the
maximum part of its cycle,

they occur more and
more frequently.

Let me show you on this graph.

Let's look at the graph of actual
solar flare data from 1990 to 2001.

The total of this graph is number
of solar flares versus years.

The horizontal axis or
X-axis represents years

and the vertical axis or Y-axis
represents the total number

of flares recorded.

From the graph, we can see
that we have a solar maximum

in 1990 and one in 2001.

We have a solar minimum at some
point between 1995 and 1996.

This scrap shows us that the
sun does have a solar cycle

which is about eleven years.

From this graph, we can predict
when the next solar maximum

and minimum will occur.

>> How do you use the


>> Well it's actually
very difficult

to study the high energy X-rays

and gamma rays emitted
during solar flares.

>> To solve this problem

[inaudible] uses a
very unique method.

[inaudible] will obtain pictures
of solar flares within the X-ray

and gamma-ray range by
using pairs, it medal

[inaudible] to pass
on to detectors.

Each grid is a bit like a fine
screen, but with lines running

in only one direction
like jail bars.

The solid slots walk radiation

and the open slits allow
radiation to pass through.

As the satellite rotates at
about fifteen times per minute,

we grids will allow high
energy X-rays and gamma-rays

from different parts of the
sun to sometimes pass through

and sometimes not depending on
how the slides are oriented.


[inaudible] detectors will
measure the energies of the X-rays

and Gamma-rays that get through
and will record how things change

as the satellite and
therefore the grids rotate.

This is enough information
the figure

out where the radiation
came from on the sun.

This information will be
transmitted to the ground where

[inaudible] scientists will use it
in their computers to make pictures

of flares in X-rays and gamma-rays.

It is like putting
together the pieces

of puzzle the figure
out, what the picture is.

The special way

[inaudible] will measure
high energy radiation

from the sun combine with those
scientists who analyze the data

who allow us to study the Sun
and away never be for attempted.

>> Why

[inaudible] observe
the solar flares

in the X-ray and Gamma-ray range?

>> We know that light
emitted in the X-ray

and gamma ray range shows
different events and that emitted

in the visible light range.

High energy X-rays and gamma-rays
carry the most direct information

available about the energetic
particle activity on the sun

that occurs in solar flares.

With help of

[inaudible] we will be able to
anticipate solar flares and

[inaudible] will aid

in understanding energetic
events throughout the universe.

>> Thanks Mitchell, say
how would you like to plot

up the cycles of solar flares.

Students at

[inaudible] in Washington
DC, will show you how.

Check up my nose.

>> Hi, welcome to


>> Here in Georgetown
Washington, DC.

NASA Connect has asked us to
show you this hands on activity.

>> It is called X-ray


>> Here are the main objectives.

>> You discover the solar
cycle, your investigation

of solar X-ray player.

You record the total number
of players in your birth month

over an eleven year period;
you compute the percentage

of N-class players
that are current.


[inaudible] to help you
identify the long term pattern

of clear activity on the sun.

Any you will corporate
problems on this strategies

in a real life application.

The list of materials were need
to this activity can be download

from the NASA Connect website.

The class will be divided
into groups according

to their birth month, teacher will
provide each group so a flare data

by the corresponding birth
month and the each student

with a calculator, graph
paper and student data charge.

>> Good morning class, today
your job is to plot and analyze

[inaudible] data from the satellite

and determine solar
cycle of the sun.

>> First add the total number
of players that occurred

in your birth month for each
year, the coordinate number

in the last column on the each
row of the Solar flare data sheet.

Second add all the
numbers in the last column

of the solar flare data sheets
to determine the total number

of players in your birth
month for each year.

According that number, the each
year in the box of the bottom

of each page of the
solar flare data sheet.

Next at the total
number of N-class players

in your birth month for each year.

Accord that total number of N-class
players in the each year in the box

at the bottom middle of each page
of the solar flare data sheet.

[ Speaker [inaudible].]

>> Groups will need to collaborate
with each other, give information

on the total number of
players and M class players

for all months in each year.

According, to data on
the student data chart.

Acquire the total number of players
and N-class players for each year

on the student charge.

From this data compute the
percentage of N-class players

for each year by using the
equation N-class player divided

by total number of
player not divide by 100,

students will then
draw the percentage

of N-Class players versus year.

>> Okay why is it important for
researchers and scientist to know

when solar maximum and
solar minimums will occur.

>> So, they want solar is
going to hit the earth.

>> Anybody else.

>> Ellison.

>> So they can warn us

if the electricity would
go out in our homes.

>> Special thanks to the
AIAA national capital section

and the AIAA measures from
the University of Maryland

who helped us with the show.

>> Thank you, we had
a great experience

and we encourage teachers to
visit our web-site to learn more

about the AIAA Mentor
ship program in your area.

>> Well that wraps up another
episode of NASA Connect.

>> We like to thank everyone to
help make this program possible.

>> Got a comment, questions
or suggestion or email them

to or
pick up the pen and mail them

to NASA Connect, NASA Centre
Distant Learning NASA Langley

Research Center Mail Stop
400, Hampton Virginia 23681.

>> Teachers if you
would liked a video tape

of this program and the company in

[inaudible] check out
the NASA Connect website,

from our site you can link

to the NASA Educator
Resources Centre Network.

These centers provide
educators free access

to NASA products like NASA connect
or from our side you can linked

to core the NASA Central Operation
of Resources For Educators, do this

and past NASA Connect
shows on your computer.

Visit NASA Quest at

So until next time
stay connected to math,

science, technology and NASA.

See you then.

>> Bye.