Tag Archives: Marshall Space Flight Center

Scientists so good they can predict things after it happens

Normally I would post this tidbit when I do my monthly update of the Sun’s solar cycle, due out in sometime in the next week. However, this piece of news is so ridiculous that I have got to post it now, just so everyone can see how far science in the modern world has declined.

For the past three years I have documented the number of times the solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have changed their prediction for the number of sunspots during this solar maximum. They have revised their prediction so many times with such a large range that it appears that they really don’t have any real system or theory for making this prediction, but are merely guessing based on instinct, opinion, or tea leaves. Moreover, they do not archive their earlier predictions. If I wasn’t documenting them here monthly, there would be no way to know that while today they predict one thing (very close to what is the right number), two years ago their prediction was way off, In recent months, because the changes have become so absurd, I have been making screen captures of each change.

For the past two months they have been stating that the sunspot maximum had occurred during the summer of 2013 with an average daily sunspot number of 65. Below is my screen capture from when they made this change in November.
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Congresswoman Mary Edwards (D-Maryland) has proposed merging two NASA centers to save money.

Congresswoman Mary Edwards (D-Maryland) is proposing a merger of two NASA centers to save money.

The amendment would establish a Center Realignment and Closure Commission that would be given six months to evaluate “[c]onsolidating all rocket development and test activities of the Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center in one location” and recommend a location promising the greatest cost savings. The commission would also be asked to look at “[r]elocating all operations of the Marshall Space Flight Center to both the Stennis Space Center and Johnson Space Center.”

Now this is interesting. The Marshall Space Flight Center has been looking for a reason to exist for decades, since the end of the Apollo program. Any smart private company would have shut it down long ago to save money.

But then, this is government. The article, hostile to the idea of eliminating any government facility, describes quite succinctly why NASA can’t build anything cheaply and why nothing in government ever shrinks. Our legislators don’t represent us, they represent the small number of employees at these specific government facilities.

The Sun shows a bit of life

It is that time again, buckos! Yesterday NOAA released its monthly update of the Sun’s sunspot cycle, covering the period of April 2013. As I have done every month for the past three years, I have posted this latest graph, with annotations to give it context, below the fold.

For the second month in a row the Sun’s sunspot output increased. The result is that April 2013 saw the most sunspot activity in more than a year, since December 2011.

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A delayed but higher prediction for the solar maximum?

The uncertainty of science: The solar scientists at the Marshall Spaceflight Center today revised upward their prediction for the upcoming peak of the solar maximum, from a sunspot number of 60 to 76, while simultaneously delaying the arrival of their predicted peak from the spring to the fall of 2013.

Since Marshall does not archive its predictions, I am required to keep track of the revisions they make and note them here. Previously I had outlined the changes in this prediction since January 2011. Here is an updated listing:
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Solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have once again adjusted their prediction for the upcoming solar maximum.

Solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have once again adjusted their prediction for the upcoming solar maximum.

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 70 in May of 2013. We are currently over two and a half years into Cycle 24. Five out of the last six months with average daily sunspot numbers above 40 has raised the predicted maximum above the 64.2 for the Cycle 14 maximum in 1907. This predicted size still make this the smallest sunspot cycle in over 100 years.

This new prediction is slightly higher than their prediction of 63 from two weeks ago. As they note, even this new number leaves us with a very weak solar maximum.

A weak maximum now expected

The solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center significantly downgraded their prediction today for the upcoming solar maximum.

Unfortunately, the Marshall scientists don’t archive their previous predictions, merely changing the text of their webpage periodically. However, I have archived most of these predictions as they have changed. Here they are:
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The Sun calms down in December

It’s that time again! As I do every month, it’s time to post Space Weather Prediction Center’s monthly updated graph showing the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity. The graph itself can be seen below the fold.

After five months of quickly increasing sunspot activity, the Sun in December finally took a rest, with the sunspot numbers dropping down to almost exactly the solar activity scientists had expected at this time, according to their May 2009 prediction. Interestingly, this might be the first time since I began tracking the solar cycle in 2008 that the prediction actually matched that month’s activity.
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Solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center up their prediction for the next solar maximum

The solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have upped their prediction for the next solar maximum, calling for a sunspot number of 99 in February 2013. Their previous prediction called for a maximum sunspot number of 89 in March 2013.