Scientists Will Soar for Total Solar Eclipse Study of the Sun and Mercury
Amir Caspi, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and his team is going to climb 50,000 feet in Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee on airplanes equipped with high-tech telescopes.
At this altitude telescopes mounted on the nose of the plane will be able to capture a clear view of the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, or crown; They can also capture thermal images of Mercury, a planet normally obscured by bright sunlight, according to a NASA statement.
“At the cruising altitude of the aircraft 50,000 feet, the sky is 20-30 times darker than seen from the ground, and there is much less atmospheric turbulence, allowing structures and movements of the sun’s thin crown to Be visible “. NASA officials said in the statement.
Researchers are interested in getting a closer view of the crown so they can better understand the structure of the outer layers of the sun.
For example, the crown can reach maximum temperatures, hundreds of times greater than the surface of the sun. One possible explanation for this is that small flashes of bright light called “nanoflares” release heat inside the crown.
The study of this situation is difficult because these solar flares are too small to be detected individually, but “high-resolution, high-speed images to be taken from the WB-57F jets could reveal [nanoflare effects] in the Crown “according to the statement.
Using high-resolution images captured during the total solar eclipse, scientists study the corona to a phenomenon called Alfvén waves, which can occur in a plasma (a gas in which electrons have been separated from their parent atoms) in A magnetic field.
Scientists will examine whether the waves move to or away from the surface of the Sun and measure the strength and size of the waves.
“We see evidence of heating” nanoflare “but we do not know where they occur,” Caspi said in the statement.
“If they occur higher up in the crown, you can expect to see the waves move down, such as small bursts and reconfigure the magnetic fields collectively. [Where to view the total solar eclipse in 2017 state by state]
Scientists also plan to use high-tech telescopes aboard the WB-57F aircraft to study temperature changes on Mercury’s surface, which can be between 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius) and 290 degrees Fahrenheit C less) at night.
This information can be used to determine what the planet’s soil and its density, which will give an overview of how they formed Mercury and other rocky planets, said NASA officials in the press.
If everything goes according to plan, scientists capture thermal images of mercury half an hour before and after the moon completely covers the sun when the sky is still relatively dark.