NASA probe to 'touch, taste and smell' the sun.

From Science @NASA: Let’s hope it doesn’t taste like chicken or smell like feet.

NASA’s daring plan to visit the sun took a giant leap forward today with the selection of five key science investigations for the Solar Probe+ spacecraft.

Slated to launch no later than 2018, the smart car-sized spacecraft will plunge directly into the atmosphere of the sun, aiming to solve some of the biggest mysteries of solar physics. Today’s announcement means that researchers can begin building sensors for unprecedented in situ measurements of the solar system’s innermost frontier.

“Solar Probe+ is going where no spacecraft has gone before,” says Lika Guhathakurta, Solar Probe+ program scientist at NASA HQ. “For the first time, we’ll be able to ‘touch, taste and smell’ the sun.”

Solar Probe+ (factsheet, 550px)

Click on the image to view a pdf fact sheet about Solar Probe+. See also “NASA Plans to Visit the Sun” from Science@NASA.

Last year, NASA invited top researchers around the world to submit proposals detailing possible science investigations for the pioneering spacecraft. Thirteen proposals were received and five have been selected:

–SWEAP, the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation: The most abundant particles in the solar wind are electrons, protons and helium ions. SWEAP will count these particles and measure their properties, even “sweeping up” some of them in a special Solar Probe Cup for direct analysis. The principal investigator is Justin C. Kasper of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.

Solar Probe+ (spacecraft, 200px)

An artist’s concept of Solar Probe+, heat shield up and solar panels folded. [more]

–WISPR, the Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe Plus: WISPR is a telescope that will make 3D images of the sun’s atmosphere similar to medical CAT scans. WISPR can actually see the solar wind, allowing it to image clouds and shock waves as they approach and pass the spacecraft. This telescope is an important complement to the spacecraft’s in situ instruments, which sample the plasmas that WISPR images. The principal investigator is Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

–FIELDS, The Fields Investigation for Solar Probe Plus: This instrument will make direct measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions, and shock waves which course through the sun’s atmospheric plasma. FIELDS also turns Solar Probe Plus into a giant dust detector, registering voltage signatures when specks of space dust hit the spacecraft’s antenna. The principal investigator is Stuart Bale of the University of California in Berkeley.

–ISIS, Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun: The ISIS EPI-Hi and EPI-Lo instruments will monitor electrons, protons and ions which are accelerated to high energies by shock waves in the sun’s atmosphere. These are the very same particles that pose a threat to astronauts in space, disable satellites, and ionize Earth’s upper atmosphere.

–Solar Probe+ Observatory Scientist: This was a proposal not for an instrument, but for a person. The principal investigator, Marco Velli, becomes the mission’s Observatory Scientist. In the years ahead, he will become deeply familiar with the spacecraft and its construction, helping to ensure that adjacent in situ instruments do not interfere with one another as they sample the solar environment. He will also guide the mission’s “big picture” science investigations after Solar Probe+ enters the sun’s atmosphere.

“The sensors we’ve selected to ride aboard Solar Probe+ are designed to solve some of the biggest mysteries of solar physics,” says Dick Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington DC.

Solar Probe+ (venus flyby, 200px)

Solar Probe+ passes Venus en route to the sun. [animations]

Why is the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?

“We’ve been struggling with these questions for decades,” says Fisher. “Solar Probe+ should finally provide some answers.”

Solar Probe+ will likely discover new mysteries, too, in a realm that no other spacecraft has dared enter. At closest approach, Solar Probe+ will be 7 million km or 9 solar radii from the sun. There, the spacecraft’s carbon-composite heat shield must withstand temperatures as high as 2000 degrees C and survive blasts of radiation that would quickly disable other missions. From these near distances inside the sun’s atmosphere, the solar disk will loom 23 times wider than it does in the skies of Earth.

“What will we find there?” wonders Guhathakurta. “This is truly unexplored territory.” By design, Solar Probe’s winning instruments are sufficiently versatile to investigate many different kinds of phenomena. Whatever comes along–be it electric or magnetic, high- or low-energy, wavy or turbulent–they should be able to measure it.

“The possibilities for discovery,” she says, “are off the charts.”

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

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133 thoughts on “NASA probe to 'touch, taste and smell' the sun.

  1. ‘touch, taste and smell’
    Hey, that’s like what I always do. Although, figuring the way the IQ level have gone at NASA, do underscore not, I repeat not, to go for anything brownish. Trust me, I know, I’ve been doing this crap for years.
    Would be fun though, getting down and dirty with ol’ Sol tasting the hell out of ‘er, before getting vaporized to kingdom come. :p

  2. I hope Monckton does not embarrass us again if the probe fails, just like he did with the failed NASA climate satellite a few months ago. It’s a difficult experiment, and even probes sent to Venus managed to burn up (in this case, entering the atmosphere of the planet).

  3. “Why is the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?
    “We’ve been struggling with these questions for decades,” says Fisher
    Well, it’s always hotter the farther you are from a fire. Simple physics.
    (sarcasm)
    Perhaps your theories are wrong?

  4. Will the probe be able to punch thru’ the thin hot photosphere and land on the nice cool surface below?

  5. “The ISIS EPI-Hi and EPI-Lo instruments will monitor electrons, protons and ions which are accelerated to high energies by shock waves in the sun’s atmosphere.”
    Does NASA have any other ideas about how to accelerate particles? 🙂

  6. John Silver says:
    September 3, 2010 at 7:12 am
    “Why is the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?”
    Perhaps your theories are wrong?

    We have lots of theories that ‘explain’ this, so it is not a mystery. The problem is that we don’t know which one [if any] is the correct one. Perhaps a combination of several, even.

  7. steveta_uk says: September 3, 2010 at 7:24 am
    Will the probe be able to punch thru’ the thin hot photosphere and land on the nice cool surface below?

    No. Like Venus, the thick atmosphere makes the surface very hot. Remember,
    PV=nRT, except in the presence of gravity. This probe will determine the composition of the atmosphere, which will let us compute a dry adiabatic lapse rate, and thence the surface temperature.
    Sean Peake says: September 3, 2010 at 7:18 am
    NASA can extend the life of this probe if they go at night 😉

    Nighttime temperatures are not expected to be much cooler.

  8. Why is the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?
    “We’ve been struggling with these questions for decades,” says Fisher. “Solar Probe+ should finally provide some answers.”

    Was it not that everything, like science, already known and “settled”?
    This is a good sign, a little of humbleness is good once in a while….

  9. It will be interesting to see how long Solar Probe+ survives as it nears the sun. It will have to contend with intense radiation and huge EM fields. Just hope they get enough data back to clear up a few mysteries about how the sun operates and it’s structure.

  10. Tenuc says:
    September 3, 2010 at 9:11 am
    It will have to contend with intense radiation and huge EM fields.
    Radiation [light] and particles will be the problems. There are no ‘huge EM fields’.

  11. Interesting metaphor:

    “…we’ll be able to ‘touch, taste and smell’ the sun.”

    Like an infant seeking to apprehend the real world in which he lives, picks up anything he can reach and, as any terror-filled parent can attest, puts it into his mouth. Or finds a knife and wonders if it’ll fit in those odd things in the wall with two little holes. So here’s mankind, still in its infancy, seeking to come to grips with the vast mysteries of the universe. So much to learn…

  12. TwoPac says:
    September 3, 2010 at 8:25 am
    Zeke the Sneak – The answer to your question is yes. Search on NSRL and BNL.
    I am glad the NSLS and NSRL has tremendous amounts of electricity at its desposal to do these remarkable studies producing X-rays and synchroton radiation.
    In space, it is no different.

  13. That’s funny, but the project remembers to me a book written by Stanislaw Lem – “Return from the stars”

  14. Hey!, so we can not yet affirm that the Sun’s furnace runs by fusion?
    the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface (SIC) then it follows that its surface is COLDER. Wow!, this is worst than Climate Gate, this is Sun’s Gate!
    No feedbacks up there?

  15. From the brochure: “At closest approach to the Sun, while Solar Probe Plus’ shield faces searing heat of 2,600° Fahrenheit (or 2,000° Celsius), the spacecraft’s payload will be
    at room temperature.”
    Somebody at NASA should do some proofreading; that (obviously) should be 3,600° Fahrenheit. (Actually 3632, don’t sweat [as it were] the small stuff…)

  16. Enneagram says:
    September 3, 2010 at 10:05 am
    Hey!, so we can not yet affirm that the Sun’s furnace runs by fusion?
    Yes we can. That is not in doubt. We observe the neutrinos resulting from that.
    the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface (SIC) then it follows that its surface is COLDER. Wow!, this is worst than Climate Gate, this is Sun’s Gate!
    No feedbacks up there?

    Curb the nonsense a bit, will you?

  17. Leif Svalgaard says: September 3, 2010 at 7:42 am
    How come we didn’t see this line in the post?
    The principal investigator is Leif Svalgaard of the …………………

  18. Leif Svalgaard, September 3, 2010 at 7:42 am, presented John Silver’s comment, September 3, 2010 at 7:12 am, where Silver quoted the NASA article, “Why is the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?”:
    And, then Silver responded: “Perhaps your theories are wrong?”
    Then Dr. Svalgaard commented on Silver’s response: “We have lots of theories that ‘explain’ this, so it is not a mystery. The problem is that we don’t know which one [if any] is the correct one. Perhaps a combination of several, even.”
    Having “lots of theories” is not the same as, “so it is not a mystery”.
    If there are “lots of theories”, then there is UNCERTAINTY, which is fairly consistent with the descriptive “mystery”. Obviously, the physical relationships, processes, and causes are not well understood — that’s the reason for the in situ satellite probe, in the first place.
    “The problem is that we don’t know which one [if any] is the correct one.”
    Yes, that is a problem, particularly, for people going around giving the impression that heliophysicists know it all.
    Such, simply is not the case — as the NASA article makes clear and even Dr. Svalgaard has to acknowledge.
    From the NASA article:
    “–SWEAP, the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation: The most abundant particles in the solar wind are electrons, protons and helium ions. SWEAP will count these particles and measure their properties, even “sweeping up” some of them in a special Solar Probe Cup for direct analysis.”
    “–FIELDS, The Fields Investigation for Solar Probe Plus: This instrument will make direct measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions, and shock waves which course through the sun’s atmospheric plasma.”
    This, in situ observation & measurement of magnetic fields, electric fields, electron & ion configurations and motions, is exactly what I have called for in numerous comments on prior posts.
    This is an excellent project to gather observations & measurements that can increase Science’s knowledge & understanding of the physical dynamics surrounding the Sun.
    Let me also suggest when the satellite probe observes & measures, “shock waves which course through the sun’s atmospheric plasma”, the satellite should be set up to detect and recognize the physical signature of Electric Double Layers:
    Electric Double Layers, per Wikipedia:
    “A double layer is a structure in a plasma and consists of two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. The sheets of charge cause a strong electric field and a correspondingly sharp change in voltage (electrical potential) across the double layer. Ions and electrons which enter the double layer are accelerated, decelerated, or reflected by the electric field.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_layer_(plasma)
    Hannes Alfven, Nobel prize winner in physics, hypothesized, not only that Electric Double layers are a central dynamic of the Sun’s physical processes, but that these Electric Double Layers can also explode initiating additional physical phenomenon.
    Perhaps, exploding Electric Double Layers initiate the phenomenon known as, “shock waves which course through the sun’s atmospheric plasma”.
    From the Wikipedia entry on (Plasma) Double Layers in the section on “exploding Double Layers”:
    “Stability: Double layers in laboratory plasmas may be stable or unstable depending on the parameter regime.[35] Various types of instabilities may occur, often arising due to the formation of beams of ions and electrons. Unstable double layers are noisy in the sense that they produce oscillations across a wide frequency band. A lack of plasma stability may also lead to a dramatic change in configuration often referred to as an explosion (and hence exploding double layer). In one example, the region enclosed in the double layer rapidly expands and evolves.[36] An explosion of this type was first discovered in mercury arc rectifiers used in high-power direct-current transmission lines, where the voltage drop across the device was seen to increase by several orders of magnitude.”
    ** numerals in brackets are footnoted authority at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_layer_(plasma)
    This in situ satellite probe is an important satellite project, among many, for increasing Man’s understanding of the physical dynamics of Earth’s space environment, including the Sun.

  19. Tim Clark says:
    September 3, 2010 at 10:45 am
    How come we didn’t see this line in the post?
    The principal investigator is Leif Svalgaard of the..

    I’m not sure if that is a barb or a lament. Enlighten me.

  20. At closest approach to the Sun, while Solar Probe
    Plus’ shield faces searing heat of 2,600° Fahrenheit
    (or 2,000° Celsius), the spacecraft’s payload will be
    at room temperature.
    Thats nonsens (2600 vs 2000)

  21. James F. Evans says:
    September 3, 2010 at 11:01 am
    If there are “lots of theories”, then there is UNCERTAINTY, which is fairly consistent with the descriptive “mystery”.
    Mystery is when there are no theories.
    Yes, that is a problem, particularly, for people going around giving the impression that heliophysicists know it all.
    It seems that I said we didn’t know which one. For more from people who do claim they know it all: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread330624/pg1
    You seem to fall starkly in that category. Perhaps you could tell us what powers the Sun. This is the n’th time I have asked that.

  22. Thirteen proposals were received and five have been selected:…
    5.–Solar Probe+ Observatory Scientist: This was a proposal not for an instrument, but for a person. The principal investigator, Marco Velli, becomes the mission’s Observatory Scientist. In the years ahead, he will become deeply familiar with the spacecraft and its construction, helping to ensure that adjacent in situ instruments do not interfere with one another as they sample the solar environment. He will also guide the mission’s “big picture” science investigations after Solar Probe+ enters the sun’s atmosphere.

    A little background on Marco Velli:
    “Dr. Marco Velli has developed codes for the simulation of compressible magneto- hydrodynamic flows using spectral and pseudo-spectral (Fast Fourier and Tchebychev) methods”
    Research interests: “nonlinear evolution of current sheets and magnetic reconnection”
    Publications: Many papers on MHD
    Placing this man in a centralizing role for the whole mission tells us that NASA is commited to MHD and magnetic reconnection and will not listen to the evidence as it leads.
    This post should never have been created. This is anti-science. Each part of the Solar Probe+ mission should be allowed to report exactly what data they find without it having to pass this theoretical barrier. Each spacecraft investigation team does not need to even communicate with the others, although they should have totally open, realtime access to eachother’s findings.
    It looks like NASA will be WISPRing more sweet nothings! 🙁

  23. Myron Mesecke-“Getting that close to the Sun I’m surprised NASA didn’t name it Icarus.”
    Myron, I think you’ll find that people rarely give names to their projects which might indicate that they are likely to fail horribly.
    Don’t tempt Fate (in this case the literal mythological figure, not the concept).

  24. In study of solar system dynamics, it is essential to consider all electromagnetic dynamics and the processes that are known to be associated with an electromagnetic framework.
    The Electric Double Layer is one of those processes:
    What has been claimed as so-called “magnetic reconnection” is actually an Electric Double Layer.
    The term & concept “magnetic reconnection” is an antiquated, pre-space age (1946), incomplete analytical tool, which did not consider electric fields or electric currents or the motions and configurations of charged particles. The concept of so-called of “magnetic reconnection” was developed in response to observations of coronal mass ejections (CME). This failed analytical tool has been superceded by the full spectrum electromagnetic concept (if not yet term), Electric Double Layer.
    NASA’s project detailed in the present post makes a start at gathering the necessary observations & measurements of magnetic fields, electric fields, and electron & ion configurations (structures) & motions to shed light on this question.
    The following scientific papers stand for the proposition that so-called “magnetic reconnection” is actually the Electric Double Layer process.
    Scientific papers presented:
    Filamentary Structures in U-Shaped Double Layers, 2005
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?bibcode=2005AGUFMSM41C1202D&db_key=AST&data_type=HTML&format=&high=42ca922c9c05019
    Quote from the above paper:
    “Observations from the Polar and FAST satellites have revealed a host of intriguing features of the auroral accelerations processes in the upward current region (UCR). These features include: (i) large-amplitude parallel and perpendicular fluctuating as well as quasi-static electric fields in density cavities, (ii) fairly large-amplitude unipolar parallel electric fields like in a strong double layer (DL), (iii) variety of wave modes, (iv) counter-streaming of upward going ion beams and downward accelerated electrons, (v) horizontally corrugated bottom region of the potential structures (PS), in which electron and ion accelerations occur, (vi) filamentary ion beams in the corrugated PS, and (vii) both upward and downward moving narrow regions of parallel electric fields, inferred from the frequency drifts of the auroral kilometric radiations.”
    Parallel electric fields in the upward current region of the aurora: Indirect and direct observations, published 2002 Physics of Plasma
    http://www.space.irfu.se/exjobb/2003_erik_bergman/articles/PHP03685_ergun.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “In this article we present electric field, magnetic field, and charged particle observations from the upward current region of the aurora focusing on the structure of electric fields at the boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere…These observations suggest that the parallel electric fields at the
    boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere are self-consistently supported as oblique double layers.”
    Let’s now compare the above Electric Double Layers papers with the following so-called “magnetic reconnection” scientific papers:
    Magnetopause reconnection impact parameters from multiple spacecraft magnetic field measurements published 30 October 2009
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL040228.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “Discrepancies between the measured components of E [electric field] and the corresponding components of v  B [magnetic field] after a careful error analysis signify a nonideal electric field. We intend to show in a subsequent paper that the Cluster electric field and particle flow data for this event satisfy the criteria for a parallel electric field…
    With the instantaneous coordinate system and the parallel electric field established, one can place particle moments, such as velocities, pressures, and temperatures, as well as magnetic and electric field measurements…
    Sufficiently accurate ion and electron moments and electric field measurements within this coordinate system delineate ion and electron diffusion regions.”
    Recent in-situ observations of magnetic reconnection in near-Earth space, published 11 October 2008
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2008GL035297.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    Figure 1. “(bottom [schematic, page 2 of 7] ) : “Zoom-in on the region around the X-line, with the ion and electron diffusion regions indicated by the shading and the rectangular box, respectively. The quadrupolar Hall magnetic field is pointing in and out of the plane of the figure. The Hall electric field [perpendicular electric field] is shown by the red arrows, while the blue arrows mark the oppositely directed jets in the outflow regions. Note that entry and acceleration occur all the way along the current sheet. Figure courtesy of Marit Oieroset.”
    The “X” cross section discussed in these “magnetic reconnection” papers are where electric and magnetic fields cross, just as Hannes Alfven described in his empirical laboratory work on Electric Double Layers and, is central to the acceleration of the particles in both sets of papers, Electric Double Layers and “magnetic reconnection”, respectively.
    Collisionless Magnetic Field Reconnection From First Principles: What It Can and Cannot Do
    http://solarmuri.ssl.berkeley.edu/~welsch/brian/FSL/2006/mozer_reconn_v4.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “The physics of reconnection [Electric Double Layer] depends on the electric field component out of the plane of Fig. 1 at the center of the figure, which is sometimes called the tangential electric field.
    If it is zero [the Electric field], the two plasmas flow around each other into or out of the plane of the figure because there is no ExB/B2 flow in the plane of the figure in this central region.
    On the other hand, if the tangential electric field is non-zero, the plasmas continue flowing towards each other into the central region of the figure and magnetic field reconnection occurs as discussed below.”
    Readers review & decide.

  25. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 3, 2010 at 11:34 am
    This post should never have been created. This is anti-science.
    It seems that the Electric Guys are out in force, trying to hijack yet another thread.
    And yet, Evans dares not answer my question.

  26. Leif Svalgaard, September 3, 2010 at 11:16 am, commented: “Perhaps you [Evans] could tell us what powers the Sun. This is the n’th time I have asked that.”
    I don’t know.
    That’s what I’d like to find out.

  27. I repeat, that post should be eliminated in favor of more instrumentation and less centralization. NASA may change this between now and 2015 – it would be a better approach and provide more science for the money.

  28. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm
    The post I am speaking of is that of Dr. Marco Velli, as the Observatory Scientist.
    I know Marco very well. He is a superb scientist with a solid understanding of the science. Perfect man for the job. Once in a blue moon NASA gets it right.

  29. Tim Clark says:
    September 3, 2010 at 10:45 am
    How come we didn’t see this line in the post?
    The principal investigator is Leif Svalgaard of the..
    Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 3, 2010 at 11:04 am
    I’m not sure if that is a barb or a lament. Enlighten me.

    Oh come on Leif, I’ve been here quite a while, you should know.
    Probably best characterized as a mixture of disgruntlement and disappointment.
    Surely you have something to add to the mission.

  30. I’ve been pondering this NASA’s fetish for smelling the suns behind now for a few hours, and what I can’t figure is who’s nose are they going to use? Is it even a human nose rather than the more superbly nose of the dog? Christ just don’t use a dogs nose-is they think pretty much everything smells good enough to eat. Hey just ask me….
    It’s the nose of the beast, and the nose is a human nose, the nose of the beast.

  31. Tim Clark says:
    September 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    Oh come on Leif, I’ve been here quite a while, you should know.
    I prefer to say things straight as they are or as I see them
    Surely you have something to add to the mission.
    They don’t consider retired scientists, and I may not be around when the mission flies.

  32. To get back to something else from the general whining, here is the abstract of the talk Dr. Bale will deliver at the upcoming AGU meeting:
    Stuart Bale
    Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA, United States.
    ABSTRACT BODY: Many of our basic ideas on the plasma physics of acceleration, energy flow, and dissipation, and structure of the solar wind have never been rigorously confronted by direct experimental measurements in the region where these processes are actually occurring. Although Alfven waves, shocks, and magnetic reconnection are often invoked as heating mechanisms, there have never been any direct measurements of Alfvenic waves nor the associated Poynting flux nor any measurements of ion or electron kinetic energy flux in the region from 10 R_s to 30 R_s where the final stages of wind acceleration are believed to occur. The radial profiles of both slow and fast solar wind acceleration are based on remote-sensing measurements and have been obtained for only a few selected events. Thus, the spatial radial and perpendicular scales of the acceleration process have been averaged by line-of-sight effects and the possibility of intense localized acceleration cannot be ruled out.
    The Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission calls for the high quality fields and particles measurements required to solve the coronal heating and wind acceleration problem. The SPP ‘FIELDS’ experiment measures the electric and magnetic fields fundamental to the plasma physics of the structured and turbulent solar wind, flux ropes, collisionless shocks, and magnetic reconnection. FIELDS will make the first-ever measurements of the DC/Low-Frequency electric field inside of 1 AU allowing for in situ, high cadence measurements of the Poynting vector, the Elsasser variables, and E/B diagnostics of the wave spectrum to fce in the solar wind. SPP/FIELDS measures the radio wave (type III and II) signatures of microflares, energized electrons, and CME propagation. SPP/ FIELDS measures the plasma electron density to ~2% accuracy and the core electron temperature to ~5-10% accuracy more than 90% of the time at perihelion. FIELDS will also measure the in situ density fluctuation spectrum and structures at a very high cadence (≤ 10 kHz) and provide definitive signatures of the turbulent nature and heating of the solar wind plasma. Furthermore, SPP/FIELDS measures the impact rate and sig- natures of dust from micron- to nano-scales, by measuring the voltage signature of dust impacts on the spacecraft. FIELDS will also measure the floating potential of the SPP spacecraft, which is essential for correcting in situ electron data.
    The SPP/FIELDS experiment combines four (4) deployable electric antennas, fluxgate and search coil magnetometers and the associated signal processing electronics into a scientifically and technically integrated package. SPP/FIELDS makes very high cadence measurements of fields and density and employs an internal burst memory for intelligent data selection. FIELDS is required to measure very large plasma potentials and electric fields (~10V) and uses floating ground (+/- 100V) power preamplifiers. The SPP/FIELDS team has performed 3D plasma simulations of the SPP spacecraft plasma environ- ment, which reveal enormous voltage fluctuation levels in the plasma wake behind the spacecraft. This voltage noise dominates the true signal by orders of magnitude in the critical DC/LF frequency range. Therefore, we are proposing a design which places the four (4) electric antennas in front of the spacecraft ahead of the heat shield.

  33. More on Solar Probe [AGU again]:
    Simon P Plunkett, et al.
    ABSTRACT BODY: The Wide Field Imager for Solar PRobe (WISPR) will image the Thomson-scattered light from the coronal plasma in the inner corona, with unprecedented spatial resolution, cadence, and sensitivity. WISPR follows on the SECCHI Heliospheric Imager (HI) aboard the STEREO mission, and addresses all four key objectives in the Solar Probe Plus: Report of the STDT (2008): (1) Determine the structure and dynamics of the magnetic fields at the sources of the fast and slow solar wind, (2) Trace the flow of energy that heats the solar corona and accelerates the SW, (3) explore the mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles, (4) explore dusty plasma phenomena and their influence on the solar wind and energetic particle formation. Situated in the ram direction of the Solar Probe Plus (SPP) spacecraft (S/C), WISPR will have the unique ability to image the coronal structures when they are close to the Sun, as they approach, and as they pass over the spacecraft. As a remote sensor, WISPR will connect the structures close to the Sun to the spacecraft and provide important spatial and temporal information; measuring, for example, the properties of the structures generating the shocks and SEPs that will be measured in a few minutes at the S/C. Since the S/C is embedded in the corona, WISPR and the in situ instruments will measure for the first time the same plasma. Also as the SPP transits through the corona, the rapidly-varying viewpoint and high spatial resolution of WISPR will enable tomographic imaging of the corona, and lead to higher fidelity and finer scale 3D reconstructions than are possible with the STEREO mission or single-view rotational tomography. The wide field of view will include at times other inner heliospheric probes (e.g. Solar Orbiter) and will image the outflowing wind that is impinging on that probe. In addition to this standard imaging mode, WISPR opens a new capability for imaging instruments, the measurement of pressure turbulence by employing a high cadence mode (~1 sec) to image a small region in the corona. For the first time, the slopes of the power spectral density from images can be compared directly to the density and magnetic field fluctuations seen in situ as a function of coronal spatial structure and heliocentric distance. In addition, the 1 sec cadence can be generated anywhere within the WISPR field, enabling the study of the transition of the solar wind injected at the tops of the helmet streamers to inertial dissipation scales.

  34. AGU and SPP continued:
    Marco M C Velli
    ABSTRACT BODY: The magnetic field is fundamental to solar activity and shapes the interplanetary environment, as clearly shown by the full three dimensional monitoring of the heliosphere provided by the measurements of the Helios, Ulysses, SOHO, ACE, Wind, STEREO and Voyager spacecraft. Magnetic fields are also the source for coronal heating and the very existence of the solar wind; produced by the sun’s dynamo and emerging into the corona magnetic fields become a conduit for waves, act to store energy, and then propel plasma into the heliosphere in the form of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Transformation of magnetic energy is also the source solar energetic particle events.
    The way in which solar convective energy couples to magnetic fields to produce the multifaceted heliosphere is at the heart of the Solar Probe Plus exploration. This contribution highlights the exciting perspectives for discovery provided by the SPP investigation of the sub-Alfvénic corona.

  35. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm They don’t consider retired scientists, and I may not be around when the mission flies.
    That’s only in 5 years. Are you alright Dr S.

  36. Well I expect at one point it will start to smell like burning rubber; or maybe burning PC board fiberglass.
    Maybe they should use carbon fiber PC boards so they can get a little closer and get a good whiff of the sun.
    This spacecraft program will be dead on arrival is my projection.

  37. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm
    That’s only in 5 years. Are you alright Dr S.
    Maybe more like 8, and there are always delays [with SDO we had two years delay], so perhaps 10 years is more realistic. And I’m ok for now [at 68], but who knows…

  38. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm
    Don’t worry Dr.S.will be still preaching reconnection…:-)

  39. Leon said;
    “Or finds a knife and wonders if it’ll fit in those odd things in the wall with two little holes. ” Uh,,, Leon,,, I did that when I was two years old. I still remember seeing the “Blue Light!”

  40. leif, the electric guys come out because you always bait them, and then feed them by contradicting yourself.
    i suspect you enjoy the game 😉
    anyways “magnetic reconnection” looks like yet another theory that fails to match observations and “at the most basic level remains an exceptionally challenging problem” because it is woefully misguided. yet it spawns a whole ‘nother self perpetuating, misguided sub-industry to suck up dollars and research time.
    From the LANL press release linked above –
    “To model reconnection in large astrophysical plasmas, researchers are employing a technique that allows the plasma and magnetic field to cross the boundaries of the simulation. ”
    “cross the boundaries” is a modeling euphemism for “breaking the rules”
    i linked the press release because it is informative and readable, but there is plenty more if one searches

  41. peterhodges says:
    September 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm
    “To model reconnection in large astrophysical plasmas, researchers are employing a technique that allows the plasma and magnetic field to cross the boundaries of the simulation. ” “cross the boundaries” is a modeling euphemism for “breaking the rules”
    No, not at all. It means here to be able to use boundary conditions set by data external to the simulation domain and to allow the plasma to flow out of the domain.
    Reconnection is a highly successful paradigm that has found support both by direct laboratory experiments, computer simulation, and spacecraft observations. To quote Bob Lin from his talk at the upcoming AGU meeting]:
    Robert P Lin
    […]Imaging measurements from RHESSI indicate that the acceleration of both ions and electrons is related to magnetic reconnection in the corona above the flare soft X-ray loops. […] RHESSI imaging suggests that the most common (>100s per month near solar maximum) solar particle acceleration, that produces impulsive solar energetic particle events seen in the interplanetary medium (IPM), are related to magnetic reconnection between open (connected to the IPM) and closed magnetic field lines.[…] new in situ observations from spacecraft going close to the Sun, plus new types of imaging observations can lead to significant advances.
    As your link states: “Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in physics, the continuous brreaking and rearrangement of magnetic field lines in a plasma.”
    There is nothing misguided here.

  42. Thanks for the abstracts, Leif. The probe seems to be gathering huge amounts of data, and I don’t see how they’re sending it back. I imagine that broadcasting from the sun will be non-trivial.

  43. “For the first time, we’ll be able to ‘touch, taste and smell’ the sun.”
    Leif
    What’s the best condition(s) to have for this probe to go?(or the type they’re planning for) High or low sunspots/TSI/F10.7/MF? What type target surface area is best – trans equatorial coronal hole , normal corona? Any other major conditions they’d like to encounter that are more a matter of luck than anything else?

  44. Zeke the Sneak – the NSRL accelerates protons and heavy ions, mimicking components of solar particle events and galactic cosmic rays. You must have mistyped in your search, you brought up the light source at BNL.

  45. i appreciate the reply leif
    it is an exciting probe collecting all kinds of data which we can hope will push the science forward.
    as someone mentioned in a previous thread, we could also use a ‘stereo above’ and a ‘stereo below’ to help paint a more thorough picture

  46. Leif,
    Bless you sir for taking the time you spend trying to educate those like me. And bless you for your patience in dealing with us.

  47. TwoPac says:
    September 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm
    the NSRL accelerates protons and heavy ions,
    I got the ‘National Soybean Research Laboratory: http://www.stratsoy.uiuc.edu/
    Pascvaks says:
    September 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm
    What’s the best condition(s) to have for this probe to go?
    since it is exploratory, any condition will do. The anticipated launch might be at solar minimum, which – I think – is fine, as things are less chaotic then.

  48. paulw: September 3, 2010 at 7:11 am
    It’s a difficult experiment, and even probes sent to Venus managed to burn up (in this case, entering the atmosphere of the planet).
    The earliest Sov probes didn’t burn up on entry, their sensors failed and the probes themselves were crushed by the atmospheric pressure. Later probes landed softly, but simple glitches like stuck lens caps on the cameras and bad batteries nullified the efforts. But, if I recall my Cold War history correctly, they did manage to plant ten probes on the surface with sensors and TV transmitters intact.
    Myron Mesecke: September 3, 2010 at 8:20 am
    Getting that close to the Sun I’m surprised NASA didn’t name it Icarus.
    I’m heartbroken they’re not calling the probe a “heliocopter”…

  49. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm
    > They don’t consider retired scientists, and I may not be around when the mission flies.
    I assume it’s considered good form to be around when a mission like this ends too. With a likely launch in May 2015, Solar Probe+ will begin its prime mission near the end of Solar Cycle 24 and finish near the predicted maximum of Solar Cycle 25 in 2022. Given the usual delays, “end of SC24” may be about right. 🙂
    I wonder how many people involved with the primary mission Voyage probes are still working on them from time to time.

  50. The BNL strong focusing AGS is much prettier but still a strong focusing accelerator in principle 🙂
    http://www.bnl.gov/rhic/AGS.asp
    “4. Alternating Gradient Synchrotron
    As ions enter the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) from the Booster, they are traveling at about 37% the speed of light. As they whirl around the AGS and are accelerated as in the Booster, the ions get even more energy — until they are traveling at 99.7% the speed of light.”
    So if the AGS is getting energies from 100MeV to 10 GeV using field gradients, why does NASA say that ions in space are accelerated/and continuously picking up speed away from the sun
    by “shock waves”?

  51. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 4, 2010 at 11:58 am
    So if the AGS is getting energies from 100MeV to 10 GeV using field gradients, why does NASA say that ions in space are accelerated/and continuously picking up speed away from the sun by “shock waves”?
    There are completely different things going on. The ions in space [solar wind] are not moving at 99% of the speed of light, but at 0.1% and are not accelerated by field gradients, but by heating due to shock waves crashing and heating the corona. There is a further acceleration akin to that of a de Laval nozzle [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Laval_nozzle ], where the weakening of solar gravity with height corresponds to the widening of the exhaust tube, helping the solar wind to attain supersonic speed.

  52. Solar particles have reached the earth in as little as 30 minutes.
    “The Jan. 20th proton storm was by some measures the biggest since 1989. It was particularly rich in high-speed protons packing more than 100 million electron volts (100 MeV) of energy. Such protons can burrow through 11 centimeters of water.”
    That’s 40% of the speed of light.
    That is an interesting theory which posits an exhaust tube effect. But these are charged particles, not just hot gas. So if they are accelerating to 40% the speed of light, they are likely experiencing a force in a field.

  53. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm
    Solar particles have reached the earth in as little as 30 minutes.
    Those are not the ordinary solar wind particles, but are rare explosions that acquire their speed right at the Sun where they originate. They are not accelerated further on their way out. And are not what solar probe is meant for. It is, indeed, highly unlikely that SPP will plunge into the Sun during one of these events. Should that happen, the electronics will be completely fried and we’ll get no data at all.
    Charged particles or hot gas makes no difference for this.

  54. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 3, 2010 at 11:16 am
    What powers the Sun?
    Oh, allow me, please.
    Compression (inherent by mass), spark (by-product) & fuel (star-stuff plasma).
    The opposite of an Internal Combustion engine:
    Compression (mechanically forced), spark (supplied) and fuel (from the fossilized Super Solar Bio-Dino Whiz Mass).

  55. Zeke the Sneak wrote: “But these are charged particles, not just hot gas. So if they are accelerating to 40% the speed of light, they are likely experiencing a force in a field.”
    Yes.
    So, the question becomes the location & structure of the force field — the field where the electrified particles (electrons & ions) are accelerated.
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “Those [electrified particles accelerated to 40% of the speed of light] are not the ordinary solar wind particles, but are rare explosions that acquire their speed right at the Sun where they originate.”
    So, the first question is the specific location “where they originate”?
    Then, the second question is the specific structure where the electrified particles where accelcerated?
    Scientists would do well to follow Hannes Alfven’s advice: Measure electric fields and currents (flows of charged particles, both segregated and co-mingled) in addition to magnetic fields with a purpose to observing & measuring the structures & patterns these particles & fields generate.
    Particular attention needs to be paid to the “X” cross section where electric fields & magnetic fields cross or intertwine as Hannes Alfven observed & measured in his laboratory plasma experiments.
    The electromagnetic framework is the key to understanding solar dynamics.

  56. Ref – Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm
    (And ALL previous posts,too.)
    A Very Sincere Thank You!

  57. rbateman says:
    September 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    What powers the Sun? Oh, allow me, please.
    Compression (inherent by mass), spark (by-product) & fuel (star-stuff plasma).

    It is possible to be more precise:
    Compression [to make it hot to begin with and to keep it together] thus Gravity. [In the end, Gravity is the cause of everything]. Even in the hot interior [due to Gravity] the Coulomb [electrical] repulsion between nuclei is much too strong to allow them to interact. But in Quantum Mechanics where a particle can be viewed as a wave, there is a finite probability that the particle can be anywhere else, so there is a finite [small] chance that two particles that are really far apart nevertheless can have wave functions that overlap. If so, the strong force takes over and two protons [the most common nucleus] can fuse to become Deuterium [plus some energy and a neutrino]. By the same mechanism Deuterium can fuse with yet another proton [lots of them around] to become Helium3 [plus some energy]. finally by the same process, two He3 nuclei can fuse to become Helium4 [plus a lot of energy] and two protons to be returned to the Sun.
    The neutrino has been observed so we know the process works. BTW, there is another process, the so-called CNO process that also produces stellar energy, but it is unimportant [but still occurs on a small scale] in the Sun.
    It is not a coincidence that the typical thermal speed in the solar core is equal to the escape velocity at the surface [this holds for all stars fusing Hydrogen] as Gravity is the root cause of stellar fusion.

  58. rbateman says:
    September 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    What powers the Sun?
    I forgot to mention that the process is extremely gently [no exploding Hydrogen bomb here]. The energy generation rate is so low that it would take it two weeks to bring a kettle of water to a boil.

  59. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm
    So, the first question is the specific location “where they originate”?
    We know where they originate. We see that directly: in strong solar flares taking place in the corona above sunspots.
    Then, the second question is the specific structure where the electrified particles where accelcerated?
    Magnetic reconnection provides the structure and energy. No mystery there.
    The electromagnetic framework is the key to understanding solar dynamics.
    The magnetic framework is the key to understanding the Sun. The twisting and writhing of magnetic fields create strong electric currents and fields, capable of accelerating particles to high energies. SPP is equipped to measure electric fields as high as 10 Volts and might get luckily to observe some of those generated by the plasma moving in the magnetic field.

  60. Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The magnetic framework is the key to understanding the Sun. ”
    This is Dr. Svalgaard’s problem: This is a silly statement.
    The fundamental force is Electromagnetism.
    Maxwell’s equations state that electric fields & magnetic fields are reciprical.
    And Science knows that stationary plasma has no magnetic field, yet the particles in the plasma exist as electrified particles.
    So, to claim the supremacy for magnetic fields doesn’t hold up to observation & measurement.
    Why do you insist on your magnetic “only” opinion, when in situ satellite propes are now gathering data that measures the electric field, magnetic field, electrified particle current & structure?
    Dr. Svalgaard, you can’t turn a “blind eye” to the observations & measurements and pretent that measurement of magnetic fields tells the whole story of the dynamics of the inner solar system including the Earth out to (Mars doesn’t have a organized magnetic field), Jupiter & Saturn.
    To consider only magnetic fields…was 30 years, ago. Today, electric fields, electrified particle flows and magnetic fields, plus, the locations & direction of the electrified particles, need to be observed & measured.
    And, I’m extremely pleased the NASA in situ satellite will be able to observe & measure all the above electric, magnetic & particle direction parameters.

  61. Plus: Observation & measurement of velocity of the electrified particles and their points of acceleration in the electromagnetic field.

  62. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    Maxwell’s equations state that electric fields & magnetic fields are reciprical.
    They also state that the electric field depends on the reference frame while the magnetic field does not. This means that you can always find a frame in which the electric field is zero. You cannot find a frame where the magnetic field vanishes.
    And Science knows that stationary plasma has no magnetic field, yet the particles in the plasma exist as electrified particles.
    Stationary with respect to what? The Earth, the Sun, the Galaxy, my backyard? There is no such things as ‘electrified’ particles. There are charged particles and equal number of negative and positive ones.
    So, to claim the supremacy for magnetic fields doesn’t hold up to observation & measurement.
    Why do you insist on your magnetic “only” opinion, when in situ satellite propes are now gathering data that measures the electric field, magnetic field, electrified particle current & structure?
    Because when a plasma moves in a magnetic field, electric fields and currents are induced, and those cause all the effects that are interesting.
    Dr. Svalgaard, you can’t turn a “blind eye” to the observations & measurements and pretent that measurement of magnetic fields tells the whole story of the dynamics of the inner solar system including the Earth out to (Mars doesn’t have a organized magnetic field), Jupiter & Saturn.
    The measurements show that from the plasma movements and the magnetic field we can calculate whatever currents are induced. A good example is the HCS. So, the electric currents are consequences of the plasma movements and the magnetic field. We are, of course, interested to know if we can observe the calculated currents and it turns out that we can. So we have a good confirmation of the soundness of the calculations.
    And, I’m extremely pleased the NASA in situ satellite will be able to observe & measure all the above electric, magnetic & particle direction parameters.
    We are all very pleased that such measurements will be forthcoming to verify [again] the importance of the magnetic field near the Sun as satellites have done near the Earth. To solidify that magnetic reconnection is a Universal Process operating everywhere: in the lab, in fusion machines, in the Earth’s magnetosphere, in the solar wind and corona, at the heliopause, and by extension anywhere else in the Universe.

  63. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm
    So, to claim the supremacy for magnetic fields doesn’t hold up to observation & measurement.
    Should obviously have been a quote.

  64. Dr. Salgaard wrote: “They [Maxwell’s equations] also state that the electric field depends on the reference frame while the magnetic field does not.”
    No. Dr. Svalgaard, how do you explain, “Science knows that stationary plasma has no magnetic field, yet the particles in the plasma exist as electrified particles.”?
    If any force has a “reference frame”, it is the magnetic force.
    But observation & measurement confirms Maxwell’s equations ciciprical physical relationship of electric & magnetic fields.
    Electric & magnetic fields are reciprical, attached at the hip, as if Simese twins.
    Dr. Svalgaard, you continued insistence on “magnetic only” hypothesis puts you as an outlier in current astrophysical thinking.
    Electromagnetism, one of the four Fundamental Forces of the Universe.

  65. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm
    No. Dr. Svalgaard, how do you explain, “Science knows that stationary plasma has no magnetic field, yet the particles in the plasma exist as electrified particles.”?
    No explanation needed as the statement is false. What is a ‘stationary plasma’? In rest relative to what?
    But observation & measurement confirms Maxwell’s equations ciciprical physical relationship of electric & magnetic fields.
    The equations are not reciprocal because electric charges exist, but magnetic charges [monopoles] have not been found.
    Do yourself [and the readers] a favor and read the reference I gave you, rather than sticking your head in the sand.

  66. Dr. Svalgaard, again, you invoke so-called “magnetic reconnection”. But the observations & measurements are consistent, and, those observations & measurements are consistent with Electric Double Layers:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_layer_(plasma)
    “A double layer is a structure in a plasma and consists of two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. The sheets of charge cause a strong electric field and a correspondingly sharp change in voltage (electrical potential) across the double layer.”
    The term & concept “magnetic reconnection” is an antiquated, pre-space age (1946) analytical tool, which did not consider electric fields or electric currents or the motions and configurations of charged particles.
    Again, this must be emphasized: “magnetic reconnection” was developed without regard to electric fields or electric currents, or the motions & configurations of charged particles.
    The scientific papers presented below, all considered, stand for the proposition that so-called “magnetic reconnection” is in actuality Electric Double Layers, as confirmed in laboratory plasma experiments.
    The concept of so-called “magnetic reconnection” was developed in response to observations of coronal mass ejections (CME). This failed analytical tool has been superceded by the full spectrum electromagnetic concept, Electric Double Layer.
    NASA’s project detailed in the present post makes a start at gathering the necessary observations & measurements of magnetic fields, electric fields, and electron & ion configurations (structures) & motions to shed light on this question.
    The following scientific papers report observations & measurements of Electric Double Layers and so-called “magnetic reconnection”.
    Close examination of the data shows that the electric fields, magnetic fields, electrified particle’ motion & structure is the same, and, velocity & acceleration are the same for each Electric Double Layers and “magnetic reconnection, respectively.
    The following scientific papers stand for the proposition that so-called “magnetic reconnection” is actually the Electric Double Layer process.
    Scientific papers presented:
    Filamentary Structures in U-Shaped Double Layers, 2005
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?bibcode=2005AGUFMSM41C1202D&db_key=AST&data_type=HTML&format=&high=42ca922c9c05019
    Quote from the above paper:
    “Observations from the Polar and FAST satellites have revealed a host of intriguing features of the auroral accelerations processes in the upward current region (UCR). These features include: (i) large-amplitude parallel and perpendicular fluctuating as well as quasi-static electric fields in density cavities, (ii) fairly large-amplitude unipolar parallel electric fields like in a strong double layer (DL), (iii) variety of wave modes, (iv) counter-streaming of upward going ion beams and downward accelerated electrons, (v) horizontally corrugated bottom region of the potential structures (PS), in which electron and ion accelerations occur, (vi) filamentary ion beams in the corrugated PS, and (vii) both upward and downward moving narrow regions of parallel electric fields, inferred from the frequency drifts of the auroral kilometric radiations.”
    Parallel electric fields in the upward current region of the aurora: Indirect and direct observations, published 2002 Physics of Plasma
    http://www.space.irfu.se/exjobb/2003_erik_bergman/articles/PHP03685_ergun.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “In this article we present electric field, magnetic field, and charged particle observations from the upward current region of the aurora focusing on the structure of electric fields at the boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere…These observations suggest that the parallel electric fields at the
    boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere are self-consistently supported as oblique double layers.”
    Let’s now compare the above Electric Double Layers papers with the following so-called “magnetic reconnection” scientific papers:
    Magnetopause reconnection impact parameters from multiple spacecraft magnetic field measurements published 30 October 2009
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL040228.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “Discrepancies between the measured components of E [electric field] and the corresponding components of v  B [magnetic field] after a careful error analysis signify a nonideal electric field. We intend to show in a subsequent paper that the Cluster electric field and particle flow data for this event satisfy the criteria for a parallel electric field…
    With the instantaneous coordinate system and the parallel electric field established, one can place particle moments, such as velocities, pressures, and temperatures, as well as magnetic and electric field measurements…
    Sufficiently accurate ion and electron moments and electric field measurements within this coordinate system delineate ion and electron diffusion regions.”
    Recent in-situ observations of magnetic reconnection in near-Earth space, published 11 October 2008
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2008GL035297.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    Figure 1. “(bottom [schematic, page 2 of 7] ) : “Zoom-in on the region around the X-line, with the ion and electron diffusion regions indicated by the shading and the rectangular box, respectively. The quadrupolar Hall magnetic field is pointing in and out of the plane of the figure. The Hall electric field [perpendicular electric field] is shown by the red arrows, while the blue arrows mark the oppositely directed jets in the outflow regions. Note that entry and acceleration occur all the way along the current sheet. Figure courtesy of Marit Oieroset.”
    The “X” cross section discussed in these “magnetic reconnection” papers are where electric and magnetic fields cross, just as Hannes Alfven described in his empirical laboratory work on Electric Double Layers and, is central to the acceleration of the particles in both sets of papers, Electric Double Layers and “magnetic reconnection”, respectively.
    Collisionless Magnetic Field Reconnection From First Principles: What It Can and Cannot Do
    http://solarmuri.ssl.berkeley.edu/~welsch/brian/FSL/2006/mozer_reconn_v4.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “The physics of reconnection [Electric Double Layer] depends on the electric field component out of the plane of Fig. 1 at the center of the figure, which is sometimes called the tangential electric field.
    If it is zero [the Electric field], the two plasmas flow around each other into or out of the plane of the figure because there is no ExB/B2 flow in the plane of the figure in this central region.
    On the other hand, if the tangential electric field is non-zero, the plasmas continue flowing towards each other into the central region of the figure and magnetic field reconnection occurs as discussed below.”
    In review, to understand the plasma dynamics of the solar environment, one must observe & measure electric fields, magnetics fields & electrified particles’ motion & direction (current) and velocity & locations of acceleration.
    I’m extremely pleased the NASA in situ satellite will be able to observe & measure all the above electric, magnetic & particle direction parameters.

  67. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm
    Dr. Svalgaard, again, you invoke so-called “magnetic reconnection”.
    “A double layer is a structure in a plasma and consists of two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. The sheets of charge cause a strong electric field and a correspondingly sharp change in voltage (electrical potential) across the double layer.”

    Double layers have nothing to do with reconnection. Reconnection even occurs in a vacuum if you rotate one magnetic with respect to another. None of the links you give say that double layers are the same as reconnection. Double layers may form elsewhere as a result of reconnection, but are occasional incidental effects.
    The topic of this post is the Solar Prope Plus. Nowhere in the press releases or papers about SPP are there references to double layers, and for good reason. Do the readers a favor and study carefully the link I gave you: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8454.pdf
    I’ll quiz you on it later to check that you have read and understood it or at least understood the conclusions of the paper [leaving the math aside].

  68. Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “electric charges exist, but magnetic charges [monopoles] have not been found.”
    Exactly!
    The magnetic field is dependent on the existence of electric charges and, it must be added, the motion of those “electric charges”.
    Please, Dr. Savlgaard, your repeated attempts to invoke a “magnetic only” viewpoint fails miserably when held up to the in situ satellite observations & measurements of the electric fields & magnetic fields, particle direction & velocity & accceleration presented in the above scientific papers.

  69. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm
    Dr. Svalgaard, again, you invoke so-called “magnetic reconnection”.
    Your basic problem is that you reverse cause and effect. Even Alfven in his book Cosmic Plasma [page 38] states that for solar prominences “the electromotive force is due to motions in the photosphere in combination with the photospheric magnetic field”.
    Thus: electric currents arise from moving plasma across a magnetic field as I have said dozens of times [what Parker calls the v, B paradigm]. This is the fundamental issue: electric fields and currents are temporary creations caused by cosmic plasmas moving in the ever-present existing magnetic field. Once that is clear [as it was to Alfven] many of your misconceptions evaporate as morning dew.

  70. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm
    The magnetic field is dependent on the existence of electric charges and, it must be added, the motion of those “electric charges”.
    No, permanent magnets are not maintained by electric currents, but by quantum mechanical effects. And you confuse electric charge with electric field and current. You cannot create a current in a cosmic plasma without separating opposite charges and for that you need a magnetic field to begin with. So moving a neutral plasma across a pre-existing field is how you create currents.

  71. James F. Evans says:
    September 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm
    The magnetic field is dependent on the existence of electric charges and, it must be added, the motion of those “electric charges”.
    Now for the 1st question of the quiz: What do the last four lines on page 1 say?

  72. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm
    I forgot to mention that the process is extremely gently [no exploding Hydrogen bomb here]. The energy generation rate is so low that it would take it two weeks to bring a kettle of water to a boil.

    The back of that envelope (energy generation rate) sounds dangerously low. Makes me wonder how Earth even managed to get out of the last Ice Age. Brings up a scenario where, over billions of years, each planet froze out as the Sun weakened. It must have had a much higher output long ago, the Earth will freeze well before the Solar Atmosphere expands to fry it, and in end, the final snowball Earth crackles in the breathless silence of a dead star. So, in that scenario, only an atmospheric blanket plus tidal interaction with the Moon keeps Earth alive. The fly in the ointment, then, would be Venus. How many w/m^2 does it receive?

  73. Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The topic of this post is the Solar Probe Plus.”
    And, the Solar Probe + spacecraft will observe & measure electric fields & magnetic fields, plus charged particle (electron & ion) motion, direction, velocity & points of charged particle acceleration.
    From NASA’s news release:
    “–SWEAP, the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation: The most abundant particles in the solar wind are electrons, protons and helium ions. SWEAP will count these particles and measure their properties, even “sweeping up” some of them in a special Solar Probe Cup for direct analysis.”
    “–FIELDS, The Fields Investigation for Solar Probe Plus: This instrument will make direct measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions, and shock waves which course through the sun’s atmospheric plasma.”
    “–ISIS, Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun: The ISIS EPI-Hi and EPI-Lo instruments will monitor electrons, protons and ions which are accelerated to high energies by shock waves in the sun’s atmosphere.”
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/02sep_spp/
    In the course of the Solar Probe Plus in situ investigation the physical components of Electric Double Layers such as electric field, magnetic field, and charged particle observations and structures, such as parallel and perpendicular electric fields will be observed & measured.
    How do I know these will be measured?
    Because of the three scientific investigations the Solar Probe Plus will carry out per the above quotes from the NASA news release.
    As pointed out in a previous comment on this thread, so-called “magnetic reconnection”, while originally developed in 1946 in response to CME observations without regard to electric fields, electric currents, and charged particle direction, velocity & points of acceleration (because in that pre-space age time frame there was no opportunity to carry out investigation of electric fields and electric currents, which require in situ observation & measurement).
    But, today, these in situ observations & measurements can be carried out by satellite probe.
    And, when one reviews the following “magnetic reconnection” paper, lo and behold, the paper discusses electric fields, magnetic fields, and the direction, velocity & acceleration points of the charged particles via identification of “parallel electric field” formations just as the Electric Double Layer papers do.
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL040228.pdf
    From the “magnetic reconnection” paper:
    “Discrepancies between the measured components of E [electric field] and the corresponding components of v  B [magnetic field] after a careful error analysis signify a nonideal electric field. We intend to show in a subsequent paper that the Cluster electric field and particle flow data for this event satisfy the criteria for a parallel electric field…
    With the instantaneous coordinate system and the parallel electric field established, one can place particle moments, such as velocities, pressures, and temperatures, as well as magnetic and electric field measurements…
    Sufficiently accurate ion and electron moments and electric field measurements within this coordinate system delineate ion and electron diffusion regions.”
    The component physical dynamics are the same as the Electric Double Layer papers.
    See this passage from an Electric Double Layer scientfic paper:
    “In this article we present electric field, magnetic field, and charged particle observations from the upward current region of the aurora focusing on the structure of electric fields at the boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere…These observations suggest that the parallel electric fields at the boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere are self-consistently supported as oblique double layers.”
    http://www.space.irfu.se/exjobb/2003_erik_bergman/articles/PHP03685_ergun.pdf
    Review of the two above linked papers will make evident the commonality of the physical components under discussion in the two papers, respectively.
    Dr. Svalgaard, your opinion is irrelevant.
    What is relevant are the observations & measurements carried out by the investigations of NASA’s Solar Probe Plus.
    Those observations & measurements will speak eloquently for themselves.
    I look forward to the results from NASA’s scientific investigation.

  74. James F. Evans says:
    September 5, 2010 at 6:12 am
    What is relevant are the observations & measurements carried out by the investigations of NASA’s Solar Probe Plus.
    and they will illuminate the universal magnetic reconnection process and measure the electric currents that result from the movement of neutral plasma across existing magnetic fields. What you miss is that the eventual forming of double layers are not the cause of reconnection, but a consequence of opposite magnetic fields being pressed together. If one entertains for a moment that EDLs are the driving forces, then the question arises: what causes the EDL to form in the first place? What causes the separation of opposite electric charges and therefor the electric field between them?

  75. I get the feeling that for some their arguments about science are less about science and more about their arguments. Is not science still built upon a foundation of dry, hard, cold ‘facts’ as we ‘know’ them and not wet, soft, hot ‘points of faith’ and ‘theories’ as we have them? And, must yet ‘prove’ them? I wonder if Old Leonardo would be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with Old Uncle Albert without pulling any more of his hair out? (I have a feeling he would.) So why does modern man see red so much? Floride! I’ll bet it’s all the floride in the water.

  76. “illuminate the universal magnetic reconnection process”?
    Oh, really…scientists (with your viewpoint) can’t even pin it down (or agree with each other) without recourse to electric fields, electric currents, charged particle location, direction, velocity, and charged particle acceleration.
    All of those parameters are covered in the Electric Double Layer as has been demonstrated in plasma physics laboratories, both, qualitatively & quantitatively.
    “universal” is premature from your viewpoint.
    ** For the qualitative & quantitative work up of (plasma) Double Layer:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_layer_(plasma)
    Footnoted authority at bottom of webpage and mathematical equations in appropriate sections, quantifying the physical forces involved in the process.

  77. James F. Evans says:
    September 5, 2010 at 11:03 am
    All of those parameters are covered in the Electric Double Layer as has been demonstrated in plasma physics laboratories, both, qualitatively & quantitatively.
    All of these things are involved in many more phenomena than EDLs as well and are indeed important. Where you go wrong is in the sequence of cause and effect: what cause what?
    neutral plasma moving across a magnetic field causing currents! or what?
    You avoided telling us what caused the charge separation of the two oppositely charged layers in an EDL. Go research that and come back and tell us.
    The magnetic field is all-pervasive, plasma is a significant part of the universe [some 4%], and everything is in motion, so electric currents are generated as the result with all the wonderful effects [flares, aurorae, etc]. This is how the Magnetic Universe works.

  78. Slated to launch no later than 2018…
    Ah, so they’ve set a deadline on raising enough money from the bake sales and yard sales.
    Maybe here at WUWT we could organize an online funding drive, if we could be assured it would go towards this mission and not get budget-shuffled to provide planetary system models to madrasahs.
    Remember when NASA had a noticeable budget, that was noticeably devoted to space exploration?

  79. Martin Meenagh said on September 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm:

    It’s a completely pointless and very silly observation to make, I know–but doesn’t that Solar Probe look like a naked Dalek?

    I don’t recall ever seeing a Dalek wearing clothes. Weren’t they all naked?

  80. Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 5, 2010 at 6:52 am
    James F. Evans says:
    September 5, 2010 at 6:12 am
    What is relevant are the observations & measurements carried out by the investigations of NASA’s Solar Probe Plus.
    and they will illuminate the universal magnetic reconnection process and measure the electric currents that result from the movement of neutral plasma across existing magnetic fields. What you miss is that the eventual forming of double layers are not the cause of reconnection, but a consequence of opposite magnetic fields being pressed together. If one entertains for a moment that EDLs are the driving forces, then the question arises: what causes the EDL to form in the first place? What causes the separation of opposite electric charges and therefor the electric field between them?
    ~
    OK, brain overload, good night.

  81. So I’ll be a dummy and ask; how does Earnshaw’s Theorem play into all this solar electric and magnetic field stuff; or does it ?

  82. SO I don’t know what happened to the cut and paste but it doesn’t work for me any more.
    But up there somewhere Zeke the sneak cited a reference to the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron; and commented that it is an example of “strong focussing”
    I’m not sure just which machine he was referring to; but I am familiar with the concept of an Alternating Field, Alternating Gradient Synchrotron. Not only does the Radial Gradient of the Magnetic Field reverse sign at each magnet; but so does the field polarity. So you have an outside path that is in a strong field that creates a stronger curvature than the curvature of the vaccuum tube, and in the next magnet the field reverses so the beam curves the other way so the average beam curvature matches the Tube Curvature; so the beam follows a wavy path crossing the tube axis in between magnets. The picture looks the same from top or bottom; so the beam can go in either direction; or more usefully you can send two beams in opposite directions simultaneously in the same acceleration cycle, to get collisions in between each magnet pair.
    Actually what accelerator engineers call “Strong Focussing”; which uses a sequence of focussing and defocussing magnets (lenses) is what optical engineers would refer to as Control of the Petzval Sum. In Geometrical Optics the Petzval sum is the sum of (1-1/n).c for all of the lenses (of index n) in the system; or a more complex form involving the curvature of each surface (c) and the two indices. The importance of the Petzval sum is that it is the curvature of the final image surface in the absence of any Astigmatism; so if the P sum is not zero or low, the image will be curved.
    In principle, you can make a perfect lens that forms a 1:1 image of an axial object point; so it would appear that a simple string of such lenses spaced by four times the focal length would let you propagate an image forever; for example along a tube like the periscope of a submarine.
    The problem is that a simple converging lens has a positive Petzval sum, so the 1:1 image of a flat object is an image that is curved in towards the lens. The next lens in the string sees a backward curved object, so it forms an even more curved in image. The image simply curls up; so this scheme does not work. However, is you place an equal curvature negative lens coincident with the image plane; the lens contributes no power since the image is coincident with the lens; but it cancels the image curvature. So an actual Optical periscope sonsists of an alternating sequence of converging and diverging lenses, with the diverging lenses in each image plane; to cancel the Petzval sum.
    Accelerator strong focussing does exactly the same thing; but if you asked a synchrotron designer what the Petzval sum was for his machine; he probably wouldn’t know what the hell you were talking about.
    The orbital path in a synchrotron that has only positive power magnetic lenses is completely unstable because of the Petzval sum build up.

  83. George E. Smith says:
    September 7, 2010 at 11:14 am
    So I’ll be a dummy and ask; how does Earnshaw’s Theorem play into all this solar electric and magnetic field stuff
    No, because the solar stuff is always in vigorous motion. There are no static fields.

  84. @Geo. E Smith
    “The AGS name is derived from the concept of alternating gradient focusing, in which the field gradients of the accelerator’s 240 magnets are successively alternated inward and outward, permitting particles to be propelled and focused in both the horizontal and vertical plane at the same time. Capable of accelerating 25 trillion protons with every pulse, and heavy ions such as gold and iron, the AGS is used by 850 users from 180 institutions from around the world annually.”
    http://www.bnl.gov/rhic/AGS.asp
    http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/history/focusing.asp
    But the idea here is that NASA has Brookhaven National Laboratory quite capably accelerating its heavy ions to tremendous energies using an electromagnetic field.
    The solar ions are also accelerating. An average speed for these ions reaching the earth is not the whole story. All solar particles increase in speed and energy as they get farther away from the sun, not just those in the spectacular CMEs. (Solar wind also has periodicities and has stopped on occasion. Donald E Scott)
    So it seems reasonable to suppose that the solar wind is accelerating because of an efield between the sun and the heliopause. NASA won’t even entertain the question. The thing about science is that care must be taken in asking the right questions.
    Interesting bit about the optical engineers and the lenses.

  85. Zeke the Sneak says:
    September 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm
    So it seems reasonable to suppose that the solar wind is accelerating because of an efield between the sun and the heliopause. NASA won’t even entertain the question. The thing about science is that care must be taken in asking the right questions.
    It is not reasonable to suppose that and there are good reasons for NASA [and space scientists in general] not entertaining such an idea. The simplest and most obvious is that any such electric field would be quickly shorted out by the very particles it was supposed to accelerate.

  86. Moving charged particles cause magnetic fields.
    Stationary charged particles do not cause magnetic fields.
    But enough of trying to elevate either the electric field or the magnetic field above the other, it’s a distraction. Maxwell’s equations speak to the reciprical physical relationship of electric & magnetic fields. Maxwell’s equations have been confirmed by repeated laboratory experiments.
    The appropriate framework for analysis & interpretation in a plasma environment is an electromagnetic framework.
    Not an electric framework or magnetic framework — either one by itself is only half the Fundamental Force of Electromagnetism.
    Wistful musings about a “magnetic universe” or an “electric universe”, or a “gravity universe”, for that matter, are arrogant distractions.
    To understand the Universe one must consider all the fundamental physical forces, electromagnetism, gravity, the strong atomic force and the weak atomic force.
    Exclusion or over-emphasis of one physical force over another will block Man’s advancement in understanding his physical surroundings.
    Man must be open to consider all physical forces and to do this Man must be able to observe & measure all physical forces — I’m glad to see NASA’s Solar Probe + spacecraft is a significant step in that direction.

  87. James F. Evans says:
    September 8, 2010 at 10:45 am
    To understand the Universe one must consider all the fundamental physical forces, electromagnetism, gravity, the strong atomic force and the weak atomic force.
    All scientists do that all the time within the proper contexts and domains of applicability.
    I’m glad to see NASA’s Solar Probe + spacecraft is a significant step in that direction
    And we will learn more about the universal process of magnetic reconnection: http://www.physorg.com/news203001491.html

  88. Yes, this is another NASA in situ satellite probe which will observe & measure electric fields, magnetic fields, and charged particle location, motion, and velocity & charged particle acceleration. This will be the death nell of so-called “magnetic reconnection” as a concept & term. The signature of Electric Double Layers will be detected.
    And “magnetic reconnection” as a concept will be thrown onto the ash heap of history and the term will be abandoned in favor of Electric Double Layer and Science will advance.

  89. James F. Evans says:
    September 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm
    And “magnetic reconnection” as a concept will be thrown onto the ash heap of history
    We have already measured magnetic reconnection in situ, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2008GL035297.pdf including the electric fields formed as a result of the magnetic fields being pressed together by plasma motion. The new NASA missions will solidify the picture already obtained. The ‘ash’-heap will be pretty much crowded with solid science and exciting new data coming from the new satellites.
    Perhaps time to tone down the vehemence a bit and broaden your world-view to include more of reality and less of wishful ‘thinking’…

  90. Dr. Svalgaard, at this point it’s a two person discussion, the website has moved on, but it needs to be pointed out for the record that I already presented the paper you linked above:
    James F. Evans, September 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm, wrote: “…Let’s now compare the above Electric Double Layers papers with the following so-called “magnetic reconnection” scientific papers…”
    “…Recent in-situ observations of magnetic reconnection in near-Earth space, published 11 October 2008
    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2008GL035297.pdf
    [Same paper as Dr. Svalgaard presented in his last comment.]
    Quote from the above paper:
    Figure 1. “(bottom [schematic, page 2 of 7] ) : “Zoom-in on the region around the X-line, with the ion and electron diffusion regions indicated by the shading and the rectangular box, respectively. The quadrupolar Hall magnetic field is pointing in and out of the plane of the figure. The Hall electric field [perpendicular electric field] is shown by the red arrows, while the blue arrows mark the oppositely directed jets in the outflow regions. Note that entry and acceleration occur all the way along the current sheet. Figure courtesy of Marit Oieroset.”
    [Below is original commentary from the quoted Evans’ comment.]
    The ‘X’ cross section discussed in these “magnetic reconnection” papers are where electric and magnetic fields cross, just as Hannes Alfven described in his empirical laboratory work on Electric Double Layers and, is central to the acceleration of the particles in both sets of papers, Electric Double Layers and ‘magnetic reconnection’, respectively…”
    (Present comment.) And, yes, I compared, analyzed, and interpreted the two Electric Double Layer papers I originally presented in my quoted comment with the above “magnetic reconnection” paper and two more “magnetic reconnection” papers.
    The description of the physical components, i.e., electric field, magnetic field, charged particle location, direction, and velocity & location of charged particle acceleration, was the same for both sets of papers, respectively. It’s clear the two sets of papers are describing the same physical process and considering the Electric Double Layer process has been qualitatively & quantitatively described and so-called “magnetic reconnection” has not, it is appropriate to call this process an Electric Double Layer.
    After the original comment, James F. Evans, September 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm, Dr. Svalgaard could have distinghished the physical components to make the case that they aren’t the same physical process, but Dr. Svalgaard chose not do this.
    But I invite Dr. Svalgaard to distinghish the two sets of papers, now.
    For Dr. Svalgaard’s convience here are the two Electric Double Layer papers I originally presented with quotes from those papers:
    Scientific papers presented:
    Filamentary Structures in U-Shaped Double Layers, 2005
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?bibcode=2005AGUFMSM41C1202D&db_key=AST&data_type=HTML&format=&high=42ca922c9c05019
    Quote from the above paper:
    “Observations from the Polar and FAST satellites have revealed a host of intriguing features of the auroral accelerations processes in the upward current region (UCR). These features include: (i) large-amplitude parallel and perpendicular fluctuating as well as quasi-static electric fields in density cavities, (ii) fairly large-amplitude unipolar parallel electric fields like in a strong double layer (DL), (iii) variety of wave modes, (iv) counter-streaming of upward going ion beams and downward accelerated electrons, (v) horizontally corrugated bottom region of the potential structures (PS), in which electron and ion accelerations occur, (vi) filamentary ion beams in the corrugated PS, and (vii) both upward and downward moving narrow regions of parallel electric fields, inferred from the frequency drifts of the auroral kilometric radiations.”
    Parallel electric fields in the upward current region of the aurora: Indirect and direct observations, published 2002 Physics of Plasma
    http://www.space.irfu.se/exjobb/2003_erik_bergman/articles/PHP03685_ergun.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    “In this article we present electric field, magnetic field, and charged particle observations from the upward current region of the aurora focusing on the structure of electric fields at the boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere…These observations suggest that the parallel electric fields at the
    boundary between the auroral cavity and the ionosphere are self-consistently supported as oblique double layers.”
    Again, I invite Dr. Svalgaard to physically distinguish the physical components in the two sets of papers, Electric Double Layer, and “magnetic reconnection”.

  91. James F. Evans says:
    September 9, 2010 at 9:34 am
    Again, I invite Dr. Svalgaard to physically distinguish the physical components in the two sets of papers, Electric Double Layer, and “magnetic reconnection”.
    The difference between “electric double layers” and Reconnection is cause and effect. What causes what? Reconnection is caused by electrically neutral plasmas with opposite magnetic fields moving or being pressed together, thereby generating electric fields that may, if conditions are favorable, lead to EDLs. I think [although you have never cared to be precise about it] that you believe that somehow some electric fields cursing through the Universe or the Sun are responsible. This is, of course, quite incorrect as a plasma cannot sustain large-scale electric fields in the rest frame of the plasma. So, there is the difference.

  92. Dr. Svalgaard:
    You are a scientist. You understand when an interlocutor asks you to distinguish the physical processes in two scientific papers, that means to list the physical forces involved, i.e., in this case, electric fields, magnetic fields and charged particle location, direction, and velocity & location of charged particle acceleration, and then make distinctions by describing the specific physical forces & physical particles involved, and, then, describe how those physical forces & physical particles’ motions are different between the two papers, when considered for similarities and differences.
    Your answer is non-responsive.
    The two sets of papers describe similar physical processes involving “parallel electric fields” and “perpendicular electric fields” (Electric Double Layer), versus, “parallel electric fields” and perpendicular electric fields, aka, Hall electric fields” (magnetic reconnection).
    Similar locations of charged particle acceleration in both physical structures, Electric Double Layer and magnetic reconnection, repectively, along the “X” cross section (where the magnetic & electric fields cross as empirically demonstrated by Hannes Alfven in his Electric Double Layer work).
    And, “oppositely directed jets [ions “jetted” in one direction, electrons “jetted” in the opposite direction] in the outflow regions (magnetic reconnection)”, versus, “counter-streaming of upward going ion beams and downward accelerated electrons (Electric Double Layer).
    In both sets of papers “density cavities” are noted and described in similar locations within the structure.
    “horizontally corrugated bottom region of the potential structures (PS), in which electron and ion accelerations occur” (Electric Double Layer), versus, “entry and acceleration occur all the way along the current sheet” (magnetic reconnection).
    It’s the same physical process. There is no cause and effect difference as you claim.
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The difference between ‘electric double layers’ and Reconnection is cause and effect. What causes what? Reconnection is caused by electrically neutral plasmas with opposite magnetic fields moving or being pressed together, thereby generating electric fields that may, if conditions are favorable, lead to EDLs.”
    “Reconnection is caused by electrically neutral plasmas with opposite magnetic fields moving or being pressed together…”
    This is the same process that causes Electric Double Layers.
    Electric Double Layer is caused by electrically neutral plasma with opposite magnetic fields moving or being pressed together, thereby generating electric fields…
    The cause and effect is the combination of magnetic fields and charged particles (moving charged particles cause a magnetic field, a current of charged particles, in other words) causing electric fields, both parallel electric fields & perpendicular electric fields, and thus electron & ion diffusion regions or “jets” in opposite directions, which are electric currents.
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: ” I think that you believe that somehow some electric fields cursing through the Universe or the Sun are responsible.”
    No, electric fields don’t go “cursing” through the Universe, but charged particles do go coursing through the Universe or flowing as currents through the Universe.
    And the those currents of charged particles cause magnetic fields.
    Dr. Svalgaard never did respond to this set of facts:
    Moving charged particles cause magnetic fields.
    Stationary charged particles do not cause magnetic fields.
    In other words, magnetic fields are dependent on not just charged particles, but are also dependent on the motion of those charged particles.
    In other words, magnetic fields are a function of moving charged particles.
    And a charged particle is one that has coulomb force, also known as an “electric force”, which can be attraction between opposite charged particles or can be repulsion between similarly charged particles.
    This is why Maxwell’s equations, confirmed by laboratory experiments, quantify the reciprical physical relationship between electric fields & magnetic fields.
    Because it is the motion of charged particles which causes a magnetic field.
    It is silly to hold out or segregate the magnetic field above the electric field, because both are necessary to accelerate charged particles, in the process described, whether the process & structure is called an Electric Double Layer or “magnetic reconnection”, it is the same dynamic.
    But it is important to note:
    The term & concept “magnetic reconnection” is an antiquated, pre-space age (1946) analytical tool, which did not consider electric fields or electric currents or the motions and configurations of charged particles. The reason it was originally limited to magnetic fields is because in that pre-space age time frame there was no opportunity to carry out investigation of electric fields and electric currents, which require in situ observation & measurement.
    But, today, these in situ observations & measurements can be carried out by satellite probe.
    The “magnetic reconnection” concept was a reasonable first impression when originally conceived, but was limited to magnetic field observation & measurement, in response to observations of coronal mass ejections (CME) in the 1940’s.
    But, today, there is no excuse for clinging to an outdated concept that hasn’t been quantified by its supporters own admission, Dr. Svalgaard, “We have lots of theories that ‘explain’ this…The problem is that we don’t know which one [if any] is the correct one. Perhaps a combination of several, even.”
    Dr. Svalgaard, by your own admission and NASA’s admission in the news release subject of this post, “magnetic reconnection” supporters are whistling in the dark.
    Come into the light, the Electric Double Layer is qualitatively & quantitatively described & explained…no whistling in the dark.

  93. MHD theory is a load of crap since it makes the assumption magnetic fields can be maintained in a plasma without current input.
    Any junior college electrical engineering student will tell you this is a load of crap.
    This is grade school physics, magnetic fields require moving charge.
    Needless to say all the work done by Alfven and others before him is totally ignored by the criminal class of physicists who have decided that public tax dollars are more important than scientific truth.

  94. James F. Evans says:
    September 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    Dr. Svalgaard, by your own admission and NASA’s admission in the news release subject of this post, “magnetic reconnection” supporters are whistling in the dark.
    No ‘whistling in the dark’. We have specific questions about the details of magnetic reconnection and the new spacecraft [and some old ones] will help us to further solidify our understanding of magnetic reconnection.
    The problem with electric currents [and I was loopy in saying ‘fields’ when I meant currents] is the lack of electromotive force to drive them and [most importantly] to sustain them.
    And just to correct your idea about magnetism: there are no electric currents causing the magnetism of a permanent ferromagnet [like the ones on your fridge door].

  95. James F. Evans says:
    September 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    Moving charged particles cause magnetic fields.
    Apart from it being wrong as you should have said ‘moving an imbalance of charges’.
    Moving the same number of negative and positive charges does not cause magnetic fields. But since magnetic fields require existing magnetic fields to be created and amplified, the problem crops up how the ‘initial’ magnetic field was created. This is addressed here: http://www.physorg.com/news203241923.html
    Notice there is no talk about moving charged particles….

  96. Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “And just to correct your idea about magnetism: there are no electric currents causing the magnetism of a permanent ferromagnet [like the ones on your fridge door].”
    Actually, there are competing hypothesis for what causes permanent ferromagnets, but one is that permanent ferromagnets are the result of the lattice of the iron being organized in a specific pattern where the electrons within the iron move in an arrayed fashion which is a compounded and organized motion, which causes the magnetic field.
    (One of the other hypothesis is about the electrons’ “magnetic moment”, still, no matter what the hypothesis, it boils down to some form of charged particle motion which causes a permanent ferromagnet.)
    Anyway, back to the matter at hand, as higher resolution observation & measurement of the space phenomenon, alternatively called Electric Double Layer or “magnetic reconnection”, is obtained with more detailed, quantified data of the electric fields, magnetic fields, charged particle location, direction, and velocity & location of particle acceleration, it will be even easier to compare with the well understood Electric Double Layer, which Science knows and accepts as a scale-independent phenomonon.
    I should add charged particle density and voltage potential also will be observed & measured, and are also important to the three-dimentional image, description, and explanation of all the physical forces and physical matter involved in this structure & dynamic.
    The comparison will either confirm or falsify the hypothesis that this space phenomenon has a similar structure & dynamic as Electric Double Layer structure & dynamic.
    It will be easy to compare this space structure & dynamic to the known Electric Double Layer physical process, just like I have done above in an admittedly rough & rudimentary fashion — true scientific detailed comparison will pin it down qualitatively & quantitatively, such that it will be evident either way, either Electric Double Layer or “magnetic reconnection”.
    This is the beauty of experimental or in situ observation & measurement, it is much less subject (if subject at all) to theoretical conjecture (which has long dominated astronomy and astrophysics).
    Again, “magnetic reconnection” was first developed in the 1940’s without benefit of observation & measurement of electric fields, electric currents, charged particle location, direction, and velocity & location of charged particle acceleration.
    As far as your linked paper, it’s a highly theoretical discussion, mostly devoid of empirical observation & measurement. I would characterize the paper as a theoretical foray. The authors are welcome to this informed speculation, but I suspect it will never be embraced by laboratory based physicists because most physicists are empirically minded — this paper’s hypothesis likely will never be empirically confirmed.
    It will remain theoretical speculation, possibly embraced by numerous astrophysicists because they are more inclined to embrace theoretical speculation.
    Astronomers and many astrophysicists have had a very bad habbit of being enamored with first impressions & hypothesis and seemingly have had an inability to challenge those first impressions & hypothesis, no matter how much later observation & measurement contradict the first impressions & hypothesis.

  97. James F. Evans says:
    September 10, 2010 at 10:12 am
    (One of the other hypothesis is about the electrons’ “magnetic moment”, still, no matter what the hypothesis, it boils down to some form of charged particle motion which causes a permanent ferromagnet.)
    Both rely on the electron spin, which as a pure quantum mechanical effect has nothing to to with a moving charge [remember Maxwell’s equations do not apply at the atomic scale]
    The comparison will either confirm or falsify the hypothesis that this space phenomenon has a similar structure & dynamic as Electric Double Layer structure & dynamic.
    That there have some similarity does not make them the same. A cat and a dog both have four legs, but are yet different. And the real point is not to what degree they are similar, but what causes what. The electric field resulting from reconnection is caused by neutral plasma moving in existing magnetic fields. You have avoided to answer what creates the field in the EDL. Remember, there are no enduring electric fields in plasmas because of the very high conductivity.
    this paper’s hypothesis likely will never be empirically confirmed.
    The fact that the Universe is permeated by magnetic fields [and no large-scale electric fields] is already part of the empirical confirmation.
    Astronomers and many astrophysicists have had a very bad habbit of being enamored with first impressions & hypothesis and seemingly have had an inability to challenge those first impressions & hypothesis, no matter how much later observation & measurement contradict the first impressions & hypothesis.
    This is just pure nonsense. Let me quote a few counterexamples:
    The Earth is round [and not flat]
    The Earth goes around the Sun [and not the Sun orbiting the Earth]
    The universe is expanding [and not static]
    There was a big bang [and no Steady State]
    The expansion is accelerating [rather than slowing down]
    The universe is flat [rather than curved]
    There is dark matter [rather than just unseen baryons, e.g. snowballs]
    Magnetic reconnection is a universal process responsible for many energetic effects [rather than EDLs]
    These are all cases where astrophysicists have changed their views when the data demanded such change].

  98. Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The electric field resulting from reconnection is caused by neutral plasma moving in existing magnetic fields.”
    No.
    The electric field resulting from Electric Double Layers is caused by charged particles in motion emanating a magnetic field, and, then, a combination of those charged particles and their attendent magnetic field colliding with another body of charged particles and its attendent magnetic field,which, then, causes oppositely charged particles to line-up oppositely from each other, and, then, other charged particles flow into the space between the oppositely charged particles, which, then, are accelerated.
    It is the electric field in conjunction with the magnetic field, which causes the charged particles to accelerate in opposite directions (electrons in one direction & ions in the other direction).
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The fact that the Universe is permeated by magnetic fields [and no large-scale electric fields] is already part of the empirical confirmation.”
    False.
    Science can’t detect by remote sensing methods electric fields or electric currents, that’s why initial “magnetic reconnection” hypothesis in the 1940’s didn’t consider electric fields or electric currents. Only in situ observation & measurement can detect electric fields and electric currents.
    But Science does know that electric fields cause charged particle acceleration and there is plenty of evidence, synchroton radiation being the best, that charged particles are accelerated all over the Universe by electric fields.
    Nebular hypothesis of planet formation — Kant late 1700’s
    Black hole hypothesis — 1915 (talk of black bodies late 1700’s)
    “magnetic reconnection” — 1946 (Electric Double Layer was never widely entertained in astronomy) This whole debate, here, is testimony to the inability to revise ideas based on empirical evidence.
    But the tale will be told by the coming in situ observation & measurement.
    So-called “magnetic reconnection” supporters can’t nail down their idea. Electric Double Layer supporters already have nailed down their idea because they know exactly what it looks like and how it behaves as they have a complete qualitative & quantitative description and explanation.
    Now, all Electric Double Layer supporters need is the high resolution data derived from in situ observation & measurement forth coming from NASA’s in situ experiments.
    So we’ll find out, one way or the other.
    Besides, Dr. Svalgaard, you still haven’t distinguished the observations & measurements of Electric Double Layers in auroral dynamics from the so-called “magnetic reconnection” dynamics already outlined by reference to the specific physical forces and matter dynamics.
    Why?
    Because there is nothing to distinguish, they are the same physical process.
    Sadly, you carry the burden of your age cohort in astronomy (except for a few far-sighted individuals like Hannes Alfven, 1970 Nobel prize winner in physics) which largely dismissed electromagnetism, even though it is a Fundamental Force, and, now, can’t bear to admit they made a huge error.
    Younger scientists are now breaking free of your age cohort’s group think and this younger generation is considering electromagnetism as is being expressed by NASA and the in situ experiments it is conducting.
    Change in scientific thinking is gradual:
    “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” — Max Planck

  99. James F. Evans says:
    September 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm
    The electric field resulting from Electric Double Layers is caused by charged particles in motion
    What makes them move in the first place? The only way to separate charges of opposite sign [if not separated: no electric field and no current] in a plasma is by a magnetic field.
    synchroton radiation being the best
    that radiation comes about from movement in a magnetic field
    Nebular hypothesis of planet formation — Kant late 1700′s
    Black hole hypothesis — 1915 (talk of black bodies late 1700′s)
    “magnetic reconnection” — 1946 (Electric Double Layer was never widely entertained in astronomy) This whole debate, here, is testimony to the inability to revise ideas based on empirical evidence.

    All of these are mainstays of current science as pursued by our best and brightest young people.
    Besides, Dr. Svalgaard, you still haven’t distinguished the observations & measurements of Electric Double Layers in auroral dynamics from the so-called “magnetic reconnection” dynamics already outlined by reference to the specific physical forces and matter dynamics.
    The most distinguishing factor is where the effect take place. E.g. for the aurora, the EDLs are found within the aurora close to the Earth, while reconnection takes place hundreds of times further away in the far tail of the magnetosphere. But, again, the issue is what causes what.
    Why?
    Younger scientists are now breaking free of your age cohort’s group think and this younger generation is considering electromagnetism as is being expressed by NASA and the in situ experiments it is conducting.
    I don’t see that happening at all. Marco Velli, for instance, is a young and promising scientist in charge of interpreting the reconnection data.
    rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it
    Alfven is already dead and there are no young scientists taking up his [erroneous] views.

  100. Dr. Svalgaard:
    I know this thread is played out, we’ve made our respective arguments.
    But I do have a question for you:
    If after the NASA in situ observations & measurements are collected, analyzed, and interpreted, it turns out those observations & measurements reveal that the physical process in question is an Electric Double Layer, because the electric fields, magnetic fields, charged particle location, direction, and velocity, & location of charged particle acceleration are that of the Electric Double Layer physical process, will you accept that the process is an Electric Double Layer?
    And, if that turns out to be the case, will you discard the concept & term magnetic reconnection and encourage others who share your viewpoint to do the same?

  101. James F. Evans says:
    September 12, 2010 at 10:25 am
    If after the NASA in situ observations & measurements are collected, analyzed, and interpreted, it turns out those observations & measurements reveal that the physical process in question is an Electric Double Layer, because the electric fields, magnetic fields, charged particle location, direction, and velocity, & location of charged particle acceleration are that of the Electric Double Layer physical process, will you accept that the process is an Electric Double Layer?
    The question is ill-posed. EDLs exist and have been observed in the aurorae, but are caused by reconnection [and is thus not the same as MR]. So if EDLs are observed, I’ll take that as strong evidence for existence of MR.
    And, if that turns out to be the case, will you discard the concept & term magnetic reconnection and encourage others who share your viewpoint to do the same?
    So, no reason to discard MR; on the contrary the mission will have been a success in establishing MR as the universal process it is. And you might [in the spirit of your questions] accept that.

  102. Dr. Svalgaard:
    The question is not ill-posed or inappropriate.
    It’s a direct question.
    But your answer is informative.
    Your answer makes clear you can’t conceive or entertain the possibility that the physical process in question could be an Electric Double Layer (and would not be able to accept such a physical finding if it was made).
    You dismiss it as a possibility before the observations & measurements have been collected, analyzed, and interpreted.
    That’s not good scientific methodology, rather, it’s an expression of dogma.
    Dr. Svalgaard, your mind is already made up, and, apparently no amount of evidence can change your mind. The position you take demonstrates you have no capability to be objective about the analysis & interpretation of the future observations & measurements.
    Your mind is already made up.
    Scientists need to be able to consider various possibilities — particularly before the observations & measurements are made. Also, scientists must be able to accept experimental results which disagree with their hypothesis and/or opinions.
    Scientists must be able to revise or change their hypothesis and/or opinion in the face of contradicting experimental results or explain why the results doesn’t invalidate their hypothesis and/or opinion.
    It’s clear by your answer that you can’t be objective about the scientific question at issue.
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “So, no reason to discard MR; on the contrary the mission will have been a success in establishing MR as the universal process it is.”
    Apparently, you have already come to a conclusion before the experiment has been conducted…
    That’s not how Science advances.

  103. James F. Evans says:
    September 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    Your answer makes clear you can’t conceive or entertain the possibility that the physical process in question could be an Electric Double Layer (and would not be able to accept such a physical finding if it was made).
    An EDL is not a process, but a state that may result from a process, namely in case of cosmic plasmas, Magnetic Reconnection. I have asked you a direct question: “how does an EDL form?” What provides the separation of charge on the two layers? The only way we know of in a cosmic plasma with high conductivity is by means of a magnetic field, that can deflect charges of one sign in one direction and charges of the other sign in the opposite direction.
    Scientists need to be able to consider various possibilities — particularly before the observations & measurements are made. Also, scientists must be able to accept experimental results which disagree with their hypothesis and/or opinions.
    Both MR and EDLs have been observed, and there are no disagreements between observations and theory. Now, lay people often have a problem with this because of their ignorance of the physics.

  104. Dr. Svalggard stated: “I have asked you a direct question: ‘how does an EDL form?'”
    And, Evans, September 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm, answered:
    “The electric field resulting from Electric Double Layers is caused by charged particles in motion emanating a magnetic field, and, then, a combination of those charged particles and their attendent magnetic field colliding with another body of charged particles and its attendent magnetic field,which, then, causes oppositely charged particles to line-up oppositely from each other, and, then, other charged particles flow into the space between the oppositely charged particles, [where an electric field is present] which, then, are accelerated.
    It is the electric field in conjunction with the magnetic field, which causes the charged particles to accelerate in opposite directions (electrons in one direction & ions in the other direction).”
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “The only way we know of in a cosmic plasma with high conductivity is by means of a magnetic field, that can deflect charges of one sign in one direction and charges of the other sign in the opposite direction.”
    But not accelerate charged particles…an electric field is required to accelerate charged particles.
    And, as I’ve stated many times in this discussion, magnetic fields play a signifcant role along with electric fields in the over all process of Electric Double Layers, actually, magnetic fields play an equal role along with electric fields (as an expression of the reciprical nature of Electromagnetism as reflected in Maxwell’s equations and demonstrated in laboratory experiments).
    It is Dr. Svalgaard who wants to focus on one force to the exclusion of all other forces.
    An absence of either the electric or magnetic field would prevent the physical process in question from occuring as stated in the “magnetic reconnection” scientific papers, themselves, presented, herein.
    Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “Both MR and EDLs have been observed, and there are no disagreements between observations and theory.”
    Yes, Electric Double Layers have been observed in space plasma.
    But note:
    Stuart Bale
    Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA, United States.
    ABSTRACT BODY: “Many of our basic ideas on the plasma physics of acceleration, energy flow, and dissipation, and structure of the solar wind have never been rigorously confronted by direct experimental measurements in the region where these processes are actually occurring…”
    So, this is an experiment of first impression in terms of location.
    So, again, Dr. Svalgaard wrote: “So, no reason to discard MR; on the contrary the mission will have been a success in establishing MR as the universal process it is.”
    Apparently, you have already come to a conclusion before the experiment has been conducted…
    Or in other words, Dr. Svalgaard has a pre-determined result before the experiment has been conducted…and, is determined to claim a particlular result no matter what the actual observations & measurements.
    And, even though I have repeatedly requested Dr. Svalgaard to distinguish the specific physical processes outline in the two sets of papers, Electric Double Layer and “magnetic reconnection”, respectively, he has failed to do so.
    Because there is nothing to distinguish, they are the same physical process.
    It’s not simply two disembodied magnetic fields pressing together that consitute this process, but rather, the “acceleration [of charged particles], energy flow [expressed as kinetic energy of charged particles], and dissipation, and structure of the solar wind…”
    And as the Bale abstract makes clear these processes entail electric fields, magnetic fields, charged particle location, direction, and velocity, & location of charged particle acceleration.
    As I’ve argued right along.
    But, just to be clear…in regards to this NASA experiment, I’ll wait for the collected data. And, then, compare the data to the observations & measurements Science already has obtained.
    But apparently, based on Dr. Svalgaard’s responses, it doesn’t matter what the results turn out to be, he’ll claim “magnetic reconnection”…determined to fit a square peg into a round hole, if necessary.

  105. James F. Evans says:
    September 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm
    “The electric field resulting from Electric Double Layers is caused by charged particles in motion emanating a magnetic field…
    Here you supposed that the EDL already exists, thus you do not explain how it is formed. Charged particles in motion do not create a magnetic field. Or a current for that matter. Or an electric field. You need to have an imbalance of charges of one sign over the opposite sign. So, you need to separate the charges first. A pre-existing magnetic field is the only way to do this.
    An absence of either the electric or magnetic field would prevent the physical process in question from occuring as stated in the “magnetic reconnection” scientific papers, themselves, presented, herein.
    The electric field is created by the neutral plasma moving across a pre-existing magnetic field, and need not exist before-hand. In fact, cannot exist, because high-conductive plasmas cannot sustain electric fields.
    So, this is an experiment of first impression in terms of location.
    No, we know the location, and the experiment is designed to give us details of the magnetic reconnection and attendant electric fields created thereby.
    Apparently, you have already come to a conclusion before the experiment has been conducted…
    The experiment is not designed to prove that reconnection happens. This has been established abundantly already, but to give us detailed information about this process.
    Because there is nothing to distinguish, they are the same physical process.
    EDL is not a process but a state of the plasma resulting from the process of MR.
    It’s not simply two disembodied magnetic fields pressing together that consitute this process
    The MR process is not ‘disembodied’. Two parcels of neutral plasma [the ‘body’ if you will] threaded by magnetic fields with different polarity being pressed together will result in MR with electric fields [that can accelerate charges] being generated in the process.
    But apparently, based on Dr. Svalgaard’s responses, it doesn’t matter what the results turn out to be, he’ll claim “magnetic reconnection”…determined to fit a square peg into a round hole, if necessary.
    I think you’ll find that NASA [and every scientist in the field] will find that they have learned much more about how MR works. This is the purpose of the mission.

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