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Stormy Weather (In Space)

Jim Slavin
Director, Heliophysics Science Division
Goddard Space Flight Center

At the center of our solar system lies a variable magnetic star. It warms all the planets and provides the light energy necessary to support life on Earth. However, the sun is also subject to sudden explosive outbursts, called solar flares, which give off intense fluxes of radiation and highly energetic charged particles. The Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field provide a natural shield against much of this radiation. However, other types of solar eruptions, such as coronal mass ejections, energize the earth’s magnetic field and cause magnetic storms that produce the aurora borealis. These and other forms of "space weather" had little impact on human society until the invention of the telegraph, radio communications and the rise of large scale electric transmission grids – all of which can be disrupted by severe forms of space weather. Today we rely on telecommunications, direct broadcast television and radio, GPS and a host of other space-based infrastructure that can be degraded or in extreme cases disabled by space storms. In this talk we will describe the most important types of space weather, NASA's efforts to better understand the science behind them, and possible approaches to forecasting and mitigation.

Short Biographical Sketch
On July 14, 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft flew by Mars and provided the first glimpses of Mars at close range. Among those watching on television these pictures being transmitted in real time was nine year old Jim Slavin. It was then that he decided that he had to become a NASA scientist. He wrote to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) asking for advice on how to become an astronomer. The AAS sent him a pamphlet which, to his dismay, indicated that he had to take lots of math courses, get good grades and study for many years. Despite the challenge, Jim followed the directions in the pamphlet faithfully and nineteen years later, was a scientist at JPL! 

Today, Jim Slavin is the Director of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He has served or is presently serving as a science investigator on 18 heliophysics and planetary science missions and is the author of 260 scientific articles. Jim Slavin is a recipient of a University of California Regent’s Fellowship (2005-6) and the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement (2004).

Admission is free. Please RSVP online to reserve a spot.
Phone Contact: 301-286-2893/9690

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