Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

A fired up Sun

As it does every month, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center today released its monthly update showing the ongoing changes of the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity. I have posted the graph below the fold.

For the fourth month in a row the Sun’s sunspot activity has leaped upward. In fact, for the first time since I have been tracking sunspot activity, beginning in 2008, the Sun’s sunspot activity exceeds the predicted activity by a significant amount. Since the end of the previous maximum, the Sun had consistently failed to meet the expectations of solar scientists by producing far fewer sunspots than expected.

In the past few months, however, the Sun has recovered, its activity firing upward, including some of the most active and largest sunspots in years.

It is therefore not surprising that the solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have once again adjusted upward their prediction for the next solar maximum, now calling for a peak sunspot number of 89 occurring in May 2013. This is the second time they have raised this prediction in the past two months, first raising it from 70 to 77 in October. Even at this larger number, the upcoming maximum is still expected to be the weakest in 80 years.

What the Sun will do after this maximum remains a mystery. Solar scientists even have reason to believe that the Sun might very well stop producing visible sunspots for decades. That the Sun is suddenly showing life today throws a kink into this theory.

October sunspot graph

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One comment

  • Kelly Starks

    It still looks like they rae expecting the peak to only be 3/4ths the ’00 peak. Also whats with the huge flares, then quiet, then huge flares?

    Given solar activity like this influence Earths (adn everything else in the solar system) “climate”, we could be moving into some very bumpy weather.

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