The monthly update of the Sun’s developing sunspot cycle was published tonight by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. You can see the newest graph below, which shows the slow rise in sunspots (blue/black lines) in comparison with the consensis prediction made by the solar science community in May 2009 (red line).
Not only does the Sun’s generally quiet trend continue, its activity took an additional plunge in December, dropping significantly from the previous month. This drop is probably due to the seven days of no sunspots that took place in mid-December.
All in all, we continue to head for the weakest maximum in two hundred years (see the graph on this page), which in the past meant very cold weather. Though scientists do not yet understand why the Sun does this or how these changes in solar activity influence the climate as much as they do, that this in now happening at a time when we have the technology to truly study it is an opportunity that must not be missed.
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.
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