New tools to tackle a solar data storm

Apr 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- So great is the wealth of data about the Sun now being sent back by space missions such as SOHO, STEREO and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) that scientists back on Earth can struggle to keep pace. To combat this data overload, scientists from the Visual Computer Center at Bradford University are developing advanced imaging tools to help scientists visualise what's happening at the Sun, make sense of the data and predict the extreme solar activities that could affect our life here on Earth. Dr. Rami Qahwaji will present the tools at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting at Llandudno on Tuesday and Wednesday, 19th and 20th April.

"These techniques are very important," said Qahwaji. "We are now able to process images on the ground so that the resolution is double that of the source images.  Most satellites are limited by the amount of data that they can store and download.  The ability to turn medium resolution images into high resolution in the lab means that satellites can take smaller images but more frequently, which will help with real-time monitoring of the Sun and predicting space weather.  It also means that scientists can zoom in on the features that interest them, without downloading huge files. There is lot of potential for this technology. For example, it can help overcome small information loss caused by noise and can be used to generate high-definition 3D images."
 
In addition to enhancing image resolution, the Bradford group has been developing 2- and 3-dimensional visualisation tools to help scientists understand the complex processes that drive solar activity.  By processing multiple of solar images, they have created automated maps that summarise solar activity over an entire solar rotaion and models of magnetic field lines, generating 3-D visualisations of magnetic loop locations on the Sun's rotating globe.
 
"This is the first time that SDO data has been used to create these synoptic maps and we have also created the first automated 3-D model of magnetic loops," said Qahwaji. "As well as being a useful tool for scientists, we hope that the public will find the 3-D model an interesting way of finding out what’s happening on the ."
 
The group is now collaborating with Trinity College Dublin on the development of a new flares predictions system called SMART-ASAP. This computerised system analyses recent images to extract physical properties from solar magnetic features that are analysed further using artificial intelligence techniques to predict whether extreme solar activities will occur.
 
"Extreme solar activities, such as flares, can affect our life on since we rely more and more on space-based communication and extended power distribution systems, both of which are vulnerable to such activities. The satellite and electrical power industries generate hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue and, if we are to protect these assets, we need accurate solar weather forecasting," said Qahwaji.

Explore further: Earth's orbit around the sun

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The Sun Loses its Spots

Jul 24, 2007

While sidewalks crackle in the summer heat, NASA scientists are keeping a close eye on the sun. It is almost spotless, a sign that the Sun may have reached solar minimum. Scientists are now watching for the ...

Solar Dynamics Observatory Set to Launch Feb. 9

Feb 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is set to launch from Florida no earlier than 10:30 a.m. EST on Feb. 9, on an unprecedented mission to study the sun and its dynamic behavior. Onboard ...

Recommended for you

Earth's orbit around the sun

51 minutes ago

Ever since the 16th century when Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth revolved around in the Sun, scientists have worked tirelessly to understand the relationship in mathematical terms. If this ...

CubeSat instruments to demonstrate NASA firsts

2 hours ago

The Dellingr six-unit CubeSat, which is taking its developers just one year to design, build and integrate, won't be the only potentially groundbreaking capability for NASA. Its heliophysics payloads also ...

Musk is testing x-wing style fins, spaceport drone ship

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Elon Musk over the weekend sent out a number of tweets about what's up at SpaceX in its rocket endeavors, talking about features that triggered a steady response stream of "Awesome," "Rad," ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2011
imaging tools to help scientists visualise what's happening at the Sun . . .


Could become one of the greatest contributions from our space programs.

Experimental data collected over the past five decades could be better used to understand the Sun and its influence on Earth's changing climate [1,2]

1. "Superfluidity in the Solar Interior: Implications for Solar Eruptions and Climate", Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)
http://arxiv.org/...501441v1

2. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", Energy and Environment 20, 131-144 (2009)
http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.