Solar Cycle #24 and the Solar DynamoWe focus on two solar aspects related to flight dynamics. These are the solar dynamo and long-term solar activity predictions. The nature of the solar dynamo is central to solar activity predictions, and these predictions are important for orbital planning of satellites in low earth orbit (LEO). The reason is that the solar ultraviolet (UV) and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) spectral irradiances inflate the upper atmospheric layers of the Earth, forming the thermosphere and exosphere through which these satellites orbit. Concerning the dynamo, we discuss some recent novel approaches towards its understanding. For solar predictions we concentrate on a solar precursor method, in which the Sun's polar field plays a major role in forecasting the next cycle s activity based upon the Babcock-Leighton dynamo. With a current low value for the Sun s polar field, this method predicts that solar cycle #24 will be one of the lowest in recent times, with smoothed F10.7 radio flux values peaking near 130 plus or minus 30 (2 sigma), in the 2013 timeframe. One may have to consider solar activity as far back as the early 20th century to find a cycle of comparable magnitude. Concomitant effects of low solar activity upon satellites in LEO will need to be considered, such as enhancements in orbital debris. Support for our prediction of a low solar cycle #24 is borne out by the lack of new cycle sunspots at least through the first half of 2007. Usually at the present epoch in the solar cycle (approx. 7+ years after the last solar maximum), for a normal size following cycle, new cycle sunspots would be seen. The lack of their appearance at this time is only consistent with a low cycle #24. Polar field observations of a weak magnitude are consistent with unusual structures seen in the Sun s corona. Polar coronal holes are the hallmarks of the Sun's open field structures. At present, it appears that the polar coronal holes are relatively weak, and there have been many equatorial coronal holes. This appears consistent with a weakening polar field, but coronal hole data must be scrutinized carefully as observing techniques have changed. We also discuss new solar dynamo ideas, and the SODA (SOlar Dynamo Amplitude) index, which provides the user with the ability to track the Sun's hidden, dynamo magnetic fields throughout the various stages of the Sun's cycle. Our solar dynamo ideas are a modernization and rejuvenation of the Babcock-Leighton original idea of a shallow solar dynamo, using modern observations that appear to support their shallow dynamo viewpoint. We are in awe of being able to see an object the size of the Sun undergoing as dramatic a change as our model provides in a few short years. The Sun, however, has undergone changes as rapid as this before! The weather on the Sun is at least as fickle as the weather on the Earth.
Schatten, Kenneth (AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD, United States)
Pesnell, W. Dean (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
August 24, 2013
September 24, 2007
Publication: Proceedings of the 20th International Symposium on Space Flight Dynamics