Academic journal article Science Scope

SORCE Satellite

Academic journal article Science Scope

SORCE Satellite

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A NASA satellite designed, built, and controlled by the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder is expected to help scientists resolve wide-ranging predictions about the coming solar cycle peak in 2012 and its influence on Earth's warming climate.

Tom Woods of CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics said the brightening of the Sun as it approaches its next solar cycle maximum will have regional climatic impacts on Earth. While some scientists predict the next solar cycle--expected to start in 2008--will be significantly weaker than the present one, others are forecasting an increase of up to 40% in the Sun's activity, said Woods.

Woods is the principal investigator on NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) mission, launched in 2003 to study how and why variations in the Sun affect Earth's atmosphere and climate.

Solar cycles, which span an average of 11 years, are driven by the amount and size of sunspots present on the Sun's surface. The spots modulate brightness from the X-ray to infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The current solar cycle peaked in 2002.

Solar activity alters interactions between Earth's surface and its atmosphere, which drives global circulation patterns, said Woods. …

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