Total solar eclipse provides new way to study sun

11 months 4 days 20 hours ago Wednesday, July 19 2017 Jul 19, 2017 Wednesday, July 19, 2017 6:10:00 PM CDT July 19, 2017 in Eclipse Science
By: Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter & Kenton Gewecke, Chief Meteorologist
loading
Note: Above you will find the story that aired as well as full interviews with Linda Godwin and Alex Young. Godwin's interview contains images and video provided by NASA.

COLUMBIA - An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when one celestial object moves into the shadow of another. But, for scientists, this is an astronomical event that will open doors to research that’s never been done before.

Parts of twelve states in the US will be able to see totality during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Totality is expected to last no longer than 2 minutes and 40 seconds depending on where you are on Earth. This marks the longest scientists have ever been able to study the sun's corona. 

NASA Scientist Alex Young has been studying the sun’s atmosphere his entire career.

The sun's corona can been seen during a total solar eclipse. The corona is hundreds of times hotter than the sun’s surface, according to NASA. But the reason behind the corona’s heat is still unknown to scientists. 

“So we know why the corona is hot,” Young said. “We know it’s because there’s lots of magnetic energy that’s being released in the corona that’s heating it up. But the question is exactly how — that’s the part we don’t completely understand.”

Young said there’s observational evidence of nanoflares — explosions bigger than a nuclear bomb — on the sun. He said there’s so many of them going off that they are putting energy into the corona and heating it up. He said they know magnetic energy is being released in the form of heat in the corona. However, he said the details is what they’re trying to figure out. 

“And so if we can understand the different parts of it, basically understanding the bigger picture, that’s ultimately going to tell us all the physics of what’s happening all over the sun.”

Young said researchers will be able to study the corona in a way like never before with new technologies that will allow scientists to learn about the sun in a whole new way.

“This is huge,” Young said. “This is huge again because it’s covering such a large area of land and it’s going for so long. We’re having an opportunity to not only study the corona for such a long period of time, which is something we’ve never been able to do before, we’re gonna have so many scientists that are here — not just from the US but from around the world — that are coming to the US to take observations.” 

Young said there’s going to be so much data that they are expecting but also data that they are not expecting. 

“Technologies and living organisms are going to be part of this grand data set and we’re going to see this eclipse in a way that no one has ever seen before and with detail and with views that no one has ever had,” Young said. 

Former NASA Astronaut Linda Godwin grew up in Jackson, Missouri. She received her undergrad from Southeast Missouri State and set her sights on NASA after receiving her doctorate in physics from MU in 1980. 

Godwin applied to NASA to become an astronaut. Although she was not selected to be a NASA astronaut at first, NASA offered here a job and she moved to Houston, Texas to work at the Johnson Space Center. 

She was selected to be a NASA astronaut in a later selection process. Godwin served as a flight controller and payloads officer in Mission Control for several shuttle flights prior to being selected as an astronaut candidate. Godwin said it took 11 years to get to her first mission.

“I flew in 91. That was my first flight,” Godwin said. 

Godwin has been on four shuttle missions as a mission specialist and as payload commander. She said she had a lot of confidence in the suit. 

“Viewing the Earth was just awesome and it was kinda cool to be outside and be in my own suit,” Godwin. 

Godwin retired from NASA in 2010. Godwin teaches in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at MU. 

Although she teaches astronomy, Godwin said she’s not doing anything scientific with the eclipse.  

“The people that are gonna gather the data for this, I hope they have a way to stand back and just experience it,” Godwin said. “So that’s kind of what I want to do is just experience it.” 

For complete coverage visit our Show Me Eclipse webpage at komu.com/eclipse.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Columbia Water & Light's outage map showed 1,500 customers without power in central and northeastern Columbia Sunday morning.... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, June 24 2018 Jun 24, 2018 Sunday, June 24, 2018 8:53:00 AM CDT June 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU has saved money and reduced emissions through its long-term energy efficiency programs. The university has reduced... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, June 24 2018 Jun 24, 2018 Sunday, June 24, 2018 8:20:00 AM CDT June 24, 2018 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS - An attorney is suing a nonprofit group connected to former Gov. Eric Greitens for its records. ... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 9:52:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Outside a sprawling mall in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, young single men and women walk... More >>
15 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 6:21:17 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One softball player is setting her team up for success before she leaves for college. On Saturday,... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:54:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The discussion on community policing continues to ripple through Columbia after a citywide meeting Saturday. The City... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 3:31:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating the shooting death of a man near a house in... More >>
19 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 3:12:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant by its owner... More >>
19 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:47:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — The wife of a former University of Missouri football coach is helping her husband remember the details... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:18:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Reaching all generations was the goal of one Columbia woman on Saturday. Cheryl Miller is the president... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 1:03:00 PM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - Two teenage boys suffered serious injuries in an ATV accident Friday night, according to the Missouri State... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 9:34:00 AM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A national gathering in St. Louis in September will focus on election security. Missouri... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 7:54:00 AM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Those who approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as the President... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 7:36:33 AM CDT June 23, 2018 in Continuous News
FULTON - The city of Fulton kicked off their annual Street Festival in style Friday with live music, a carnival,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 23 2018 Jun 23, 2018 Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:23:00 AM CDT June 23, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old inmate was charged Friday with capital murder in the shooting deaths of... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 8:41:21 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - People will see a few more cars drive through town this weekend, as the city celebrates its annual... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 5:41:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE – Police said a technician at a local gas station found an internal skimmer device inside a gas pump... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 4:49:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Fulton man could face more than 200 years in prison after being found guilty of 12... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 4:01:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 80°
11am 84°
12pm 87°
1pm 88°
2pm 89°