Following Saturday’s successful launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon manned spacecraft, emotional company founder Elon Musk said, “This is something that humanity should be excited about and proud of occurring on this day.”
Musk is right. Against all the odds and in contradiction to the many doubters that this day would ever arrive, Musk and his superb team at SpaceX showed the world what you can do when you are not afraid to think outside of the box. SpaceX has developed a reliable, human-crewed spacecraft that can be used over and over with the launch system flying back to Earth and landing intact on its tail to be refueled and used again. This was considered impossible until Musk’s team actually did it.
Musk is no stranger to thinking unconventionally, from a new perspective, and in contradiction to the powers that be. In the past few months, he has been one of the few leaders to question the wisdom of governments’ decisions to shut down society in response to the Chinese coronavirus. During a Tesla earnings call in late April, he railed against stay-at-home orders, calling them “fascist.” According to CNN Digital, Musk said:
“I would call it, ‘forcibly imprisoning people in their homes’ against all their Constitutional rights, in my opinion, and breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country. It’s an outrage.”
“Give people their freedom back,” he tweeted to his 33.4 million Twitter followers, adding in another tweet, “Yes, reopen with care & appropriate protection, but don’t put everyone under de facto house arrest.”
Musk is also not afraid to contest what he apparently regards as unacceptable censorship imposed on social media by his peers in high tech, tweeting on April 29 that “Silicon Valley has become Sanctimonious Valley” and that they were “Too much the moral arbiter of the world.”
The next area we hope Musk takes on is the politically correct, but scientifically flawed climate scare. Like COVID-19 alarmism, Musk should employ his engineering background to realize and tell people about how climate alarmism is based on the forecast of computer models with hopelessly inadequate input data. And all this has a space connection Musk would like.
On June 1, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched on August 12, 2018, began its fifth encounter with the Sun, changes in which are increasingly seen to be the main cause of Earthly climate change. That the Sun would have a major impact on climate should surprise no one. Compared to Earth, our home star is a behemoth and a huge source of energy whereby only a minuscule portion comes to the Earth. Yet that is enough to raise the temperature of the Earth from near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius) to the relatively comfortable and stable 15 C (59 F) we enjoy today.
The Sun is by far the largest and the most massive object in the solar system. You could line up almost 110,000 Earths around the Sun’s equator, and if it was hollow, you could fit about 1.3 million Earths inside it. The Sun contains 99.8% of the entire mass of our solar system and loses about 1.5 million tons of material via the solar ejections and solar winds each second.
Yet, it is just a medium-sized star among the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. The red supergiant star Betelgeuse is 700 times bigger and 14,000 times brighter than our Sun. But Earth is also ten times bigger than some of the smaller size white-dwarf stars. Although Earth is currently about 93 million miles away from the Sun, a distance that takes light about eight minutes traverse, our star can be as close as 83 million miles from us and as far as 120 million miles, with the distance varying in a 100,000-year cycle.
The Sun is powered nuclear fusion, like a Hydrogen bomb. Its enormous heat and gravitational pressure convert Hydrogen to Helium and, in the process, generate the energy equivalent to blasting 1 million Hydrogen bombs every second. We measure the amount of the Sun’s power density that reaches the Earth in Kilowatts per square meter, which is called Total Solar Intensity (TSI).
While the Parker Solar Probe and other solar observatories are teaching us a lot about the Sun, we are really just scratching the surface in our quest to understand our home star. For example, there is a theory that the energy in the Ultraviolet and Extreme Ultraviolet wavelengths may play a far more significant role in plant growth than previously thought. And it was not until this century that we have begun to understand how variations in solar output due to the different solar cycles influence cloud formation on Earth and so our planet’s climate far beyond the effects of TSI alone.
We assume that there are several different sections or layers to the Sun. During its seven-year mission, the Parker Solar Probe will help us better understand how the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated. This is because, Parker will actually fly into the corona, coming within 3.9 million miles of the Sun’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and closer than any previous spacecraft. Specialized insulations, including a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield, were required to permit it to operate at over 2,000 F. The major mission objectives are:
- Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the Solar Corona ejections and Solar winds
- Determine the structure and dynamics of the flow of plasma and magnetic fields at the source of the solar winds
- Explore the forces and dynamics that accelerate the high energy solar particles
Like Musk’s important space launch success last week, and his future plans for manned missions to Mars, Parker truly sounds like science fiction. Yet it will contribute hugely to our understanding of the Sun and should be right up Musk’s alley for tweeting about.
In the past few years, several breakthroughs were made in the solar climate field with major contributions by Drs. Svensmark, Zharkova, Zhang, and their dedicated teams. On March 27, 2017 a paper titled “Sun’s impact on climate change quantified for the first time,” was published by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Little heed has been paid to it by politically-correct climate modelers, of course.
Like his outspoken, but well-founded public comments on the problems with the government’s response to COVID-19, we need Elon Musk to next attack the destruction of our economy based on hopelessly flawed climate models.
Note: Portions of this article were excerpted from the 2020 book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change with permission of the author Terigi Ciccone. The book is the best possible source for parents and grandparents to explain reality to their children.