Posting in Design
ALCALA DE HENARES -- The Spanish head the closest trip to the sun, which just might save our planet.
ALCALA DE HENARES--Space, the final frontier. Mankind has had a love-hate-fear of "what's out there" from the beginning. The irresistibility of this unknown has driven space-based innovation for more than half a century, continuing through times of social, economic and political unrest. With climate change and thinning atmospheres, our other-world obsession is now focused on our beloved star, Helios, the sun.
Isabel and Ferdinand may have demanded that the sun revolved around the Earth, but it's actually the Spanish who are leading the closest trip to the sun. The University of Alcala is organizing the building of the Solar Orbiter. This Smart Car-sized box will leave the planet in 2017, gravity slingshot a couple times around Earth and Venus, and then swing toward the sun's atmosphere, roughly approaching the orbit of Mercury. The Solar Orbiter will take three to four years to travel 0.8 astronomical units--about 119 million kilometers, or three-quarters of the Earth´s distance to the sun--to gather the most accurate information yet on our brightest and enigmatic star.
Why the sun? Why is the European Space Agency dropping nearly 500 million euros in the midst of a recession, borderline depression? To save the world, of course! "The sun is the main driver of our climate," says Javier Rodriguez-Pacheco, who is in charge of the project that brings together researchers, scientists and engineers from Spain, Finland, Germany, South Korea and the U.S. "One percent more or less radiation would produce a catastrophic change," like an ice age, he says. This mission could lead us to finally beginning to understand the sun and providing us with evidence on which to base theories like global warming and its causes.
The Space Orbiter is a mere two-meter cube, operated mainly by maneuverable, temperature-reacting solar panels that flank it like wings. It includes remote-sensing instruments to take the most-detailed-ever photos and films of the sun, along with the Insitu, which will collect particles surrounding the Orbiter as it travels. This is the first time getting anywhere near this close to the sun has been possible, due to advances in heat shield and temperature technology.
The Orbiter is a giant leap for mankind toward explaining how the sun works and how climate change is caused, particularly by greenhouse gases. "We don't know exactly how the sun works. For that, we have to go there, take pictures close (to it) and to take pictures and samples from the poles," Pacheco says. Then, "we can really make an improvement on the theoretical model, and be able to produce a forecast of the activity of the sun for the years to come."
In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed an order to create an assessment of the real danger of increasingly regular and explosive solar storms, which, according to Pacheco, cause "increased radiation, damaged satellites, (and) endangers those in the space station." He says these storms give off the same particles and high radiation levels as inside a nuclear power plant, particularly near to the poles, Earth´s strongest magnetic fields. The Earth has natural protections against this radiation, including its atmosphere, but "we aren't protected from the electrical currents, charging movements. They can damage the generators and the electrical power plants, like in Canada (and) the north of the U.S.," which are closest to the north pole. Pacheco says, "If we lose all these power plants, it could be much more catastrophic than the (Hurricane) Katrina disaster."
Of course, besides saving life as we know it, there will likely be more tangible benefits for the everyman. NASA and the ESA feature some of the most important innovators in the world, with thousands of patents that affect the average consumer's life. From your Tempurpedic mattress to your Invisilines to your Brita water filter, many every day items originate from space research. Pacheco advocates for continued space spending--no matter what the economic situation--because it "involves technology development, technology that will be available for the rest of the world some years after." While Spain isn't exactly known for its astronauts or aeronautical research, this outside-the-box--or even out-of-this-world--investigation is the direction Spain needs to be heading. The research done at one of the oldest universities in the world could lead to inventions and products that could change Spain from an import-based, service economy to one that markets and exports its products, research and technology abroad.
As Pacheco says, "Research, design and innovation has to be one of the pillars of the Spanish economy."
Video/Screenshots: European Space Agency
Jun 24, 2012
Spain's going bankrupt, and using Other People's Money to do so, but at least they're saving the planet. Whew...
I would like to thank to ALCALA HENARES University for this mission to solar orbiter. This will really be a good quest to the sun for the benefit of the world's climate and ecology. Sun is the source of illumination of electromagnetic radiation in this Universe and still have to quest Sun's pattern of radiation with respect to atmospheric attenuation and its windows that transmitting radiation at a constant rate. World's biodiversity and its ecology is dependent on solar radiation and if the amount of radiation varies then world's climate may not be suitable for bio tic community . This mission will definitely going to be successful to explore the solar energy and its pattern of orbit respective to the planets . In this expedition , United Nations Organisation may come forward to support it by financial aid.
How can so many dumb people respond to an interesting Smart Planet story? I know, they must be from the Dumb Planet. I bet they all work for the greedy investment bankers and real estate speculators who destroyed the financial system while ripping us all off. Now they're busy obfuscating the issue by pretending that minuscule investments addressing serious issues are the problem. Which planet do you live on?
Space offers mankind the Resources and Energy for our Future... Dwindling Earth based resources and Energy are leading US to Wars... The Nuclear Industry has seized upon the Climate Change and Green House Gas issues in a desperate attempt to save THEIR market share of the Energy business. Left unsaid is Nuclear's Global Radioactive Pollution from Fukushima's TRIPLE MELTDOWN which continues to encircle the Planet! First, they said that it would never happen, now they say it will never happen again... Wake up and see the nuclear Industry for what it is: Global Nuclear Fascism* which if they have their way, will promote for ever more new nuclear that will only increase the cost of Energy and the RISK of yet another Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster happening somewhere on the Planet... While the cost of Solar (of all flavors) is dropping monthly the cost of Nuclear and it's decommissioning costs are going ever upward! Until we start getting our energy from Solar (of all flavors) and especially from Space we will continue to have Energy Wars and civil strife on Earth. Here are several books that describe how to "safe" the Earth from it's nuclear folly: The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill, Colonies In Space by A. Heppenheim??er. The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine The Space Enterprise by Philip Robert Harris Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis *Nuclear Fascism http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nuclear+fascism
I believe this is a very interesting project to watch. In fact, such projects of global importance should be generously funded, even through some sort of 'crowd-funding' or public-private partnership, if required. A blueprint showing the various direct (power plant safety, better global warming and climate change understanding) and collateral benefits (retail technology patents) that can accrue would also serve to allay the doubts of naysayers.
Spain doesn??t even have money nor resources to save their own country, now they plan to save the planet and spend on a solar trip when their own citizens don??t even have money to buy food??!!! No wonder they are in crisis, they should learn to prioritize!! They are putting the whole world in jeopardy by their economy and they still don??t learn!!
My thoughts exactly. If Spain goes ahead with this, the Euro Bank, the IMF, the World Bank and anyone else contemplating bailing out that bunch should themselves bail. What a crock. Sorry, all techies who think this is a great thing, but Spain ain't the country who should be doin' it.
Spain is an economic train wreck. In large part because of jobs lost to the carbon crack down and the lack of the promised green job creation. They are wasting money on this while begging Germany for a bailout.