Total solar eclipse provides new way to study sun

4 months 2 days 18 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 - The heavily traveled road Ballenger Lane has raised concern to homeowners and travelers due to its lack of... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 2:20:00 AM CST November 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia education leaders are concerned Gov. Eric Greitens is playing partisan politics with the state's board of education... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:21:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
BELLE - The mayor of Belle, who is also a volunteer firefighter, crashed into the back of an ambulance that... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:32:54 PM CST November 20, 2017 in Target 8
BELLE - Abatement Officer Tony Baretich is under investigation for 13 complaints that were formally filed against him after he... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 8:16:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The city council met Monday night to hear the Visitors Bureau proposal to change the city's current definition... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 6:12:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The state of Missouri has announced an increase to the state's minimum wage Monday. Businesses will... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 6:01:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
FULTON - Police arrested a woman after she allegedly attempted to steal a car from a shop, then broke into... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 3:23:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Jack and Katie Hanney know probably better than anyone else that life can throw curve-balls when least expected.... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 3:03:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Mayors from across Missouri met in Columbia Monday to discuss a variety of policies they say are negatively... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:13:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - As videos surface of package thieves targeting many neighborhoods, residents are talking about the need for security cameras.... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:11:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The owner of the Broadway Hotel still plans to request a TIF from City Council for a $20... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors charged an inmate at the Boone County Jail with damaging the facility after he allegedly flushed his... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:53:33 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal investigation will look into possible civil rights violations by police in the St.... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:44:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
FAYETTE - The special prosecutor in the case against a woman accused of bullying a teenager has filed more charges,... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:06:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - With the holiday season upon us, more people will be traveling, and Columbia Regional Airport announced another way... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:51:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The governor of Missouri has appointed 16 people to help review child abuse cases after the state... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:35:38 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
POTOSI (AP) — An eastern Missouri police officer has died following an off-duty accident. The Daily Journal newspaper in... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:22:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Authorities are investigating a possible explosion that led to a structure fire in Moberly Sunday night. The... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 41°
6am 45°
7am 45°
8am 44°
9am 47°