{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/inside_adams.php' }

IT IS ROCKET SCIENCE! Exploring Earth’s Escaping Atmosphere with NASA’s Douglas Rowland on October 17

Time-lapse photograph shows the first stages of the VISION-2 Black Brant X rockets as they leave the launch pad from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, in Norway.
Credits: NASA/ Allison Stancil-Ervin

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

The Earth loses hundreds of tons of its atmosphere to space on a daily basis, due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind.  Luckily, the Earth has enough atmosphere to last billions of years.  The escaping atmosphere happens mostly at high latitudes, where solar wind-driven energy streams down into the atmosphere to form the aurora.  The energy ionizes, heats, and accelerates the upper atmosphere, ejecting part of it into space.  The processes by which heavier gases like oxygen, which are gravitationally bound, are heated and energized by factors of one hundred or more before reaching escape velocity remain mysterious.  On planets like Mars, these and similar processes are thought to have resulted in the almost total erosion of a once-dense atmosphere.  Since these effects can be critical in determining planetary habitability for other planets around other stars, Earth provides the natural laboratory for their study.

Dr. Douglas Rowland, an astrophysicist in the Space Weather Laboratory of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, led the VISIONS-2 (VISualiziing Ion Outflow via Neutral atom Sensing-2) NASA sounding rocket mission, which is part of the multinational Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI)-Cusp project.  The VISIONS-2 was launched from the world’s northernmost town, Ny Ålesund, Norway, 769 miles from the North Pole, and the one inhabited place on Earth where the solar wind has direct access to the atmosphere.

Doug Rowland, VISIONS-2 principal investigator, stands next to the 35.039 payload on its launch rail before completion of boxing. Credit: Paulo Uribe

Dr. Rowland will talk about atmospheric escape, his adventures in Norway, and what is being learned from the VISIONS-2 data in his lecture, Exploring Our Escaping Atmosphere: Going above the Top of the World to Watch the Sky, on Thursday, October 17, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the Madison building’s third floor Pickford Theater.

For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at 202-707-1192 or [email protected] Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]

 

The Enchantress of Number

This blog was written in preparation for Ada Lovelace Day, which occurs every year on the second Tuesday of October and celebrates women in STEM. Augusta Ada Byron, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron and intellectual Lady Byron (whom Byron once named the “Princess of Parallelograms”), was born in 1815.  Shortly after Ada’s birth, […]

Peter Parley Explains the Moon to Children, Part 1

Today’s guest post is by Jacqueline Coleburn and Anthony Mullan. Jackie is a rare book cataloger at the Library of Congress and is cataloging the Library’s rare children’s books.  Peter Parley books are a particular interest of hers. These books, which were very popular in the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, offer insight into the evolution […]

The Parker Solar Probe, Mission to “Touch the Sun”: December 6 NASA Lecture with Dr. Alex Young

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. One of NASA’s most exciting missions, the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) launched from Cape Canaveral on August 12, 2018. The mission’s findings will help researchers improve forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites, […]

The ICESat Man Cometh: Lecture November 8 with NASA’s Tom Neumann

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. On November 8 the Library will welcome cryospheric scientist Tom Neumann, who will speak on “GRACE-FO and ICESat-2:  NASA’s Leadership in Monitoring the Polar Regions from Space.”  Dr. Neumann is deputy project scientist on ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and […]

NASA Astrobiologist Melissa Trainer to Speak at the Library October 11 on Titan: An Exotic Ocean World Waiting to be Explored

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. Before the twenty years of the Cassini-Huygens mission, little was known about Saturn’s largest moon Titan, except that it was Mercury-sized and its surface was hidden beneath a thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere. The Cassini mission mapped Titan’s surface, studied […]

Shadow Science: Using Eclipses to Shed New Light on Heavenly Bodies, September 12 Lecture with NASA’s Chief Scientist, Dr. James L. Green

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. People are still talking about the total solar eclipse of last August, and many of us are already excited about the next one on April 8, 2024.  That will be the only total solar eclipse in the 21st […]

Binge Watching Science Webcasts! Celebrating Twelve Years of the NASA Goddard Lecture Series at the Library of Congress

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference & Research Specialist, in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress. She is also author of the blog posts “Kebabs, Kabobs, Shish Kebabs, Shashlyk, and: Chislic,” “The Potato Transformed,” and “Susan Fenimore Cooper: The First American Woman to Publish Nature Writing.” The Science, […]

Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Sarah Jones, June 7: “The Upper Atmosphere: Where Space Weather Meets Earth Weather”

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The dance between the ionosphere and the thermosphere is complicated!  At the boundary between Earth and space, charged particles and fields co-exist with Earth’s neutral atmosphere and cause a continual tug of war between the neutral and ionized […]