Total solar eclipse provides new way to study sun

4 months 4 weeks 17 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 (AP) — Police say they have arrested a man charged in an August quadruple homicide that occurred in... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:15:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD - A two-vehicle car wreck Saturday left one dead and two others injured, according to the Missouri State... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:15:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - An event in Columbia today addressed the prevalence of gun violence and misuse of firearms by offering gift... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:04:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – A six-year-old held a hot chocolate stand Saturday outside of a Hy-Vee in Jefferson City to help two... More >>
9 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 6:51:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Wyss Medical Foundation donated $2 million to the Missouri Orthapaedic Institute for the work of lead orthopaedic... More >>
11 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 5:05:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - On Friday, the Columbia Police Department inducted eight new recruits, the largest class of officers in years. ... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 4:03:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
JACKSONVILLE - An estimated 400 people attended a wreath laying ceremony Saturday at the Jacksonville State Veterans Cemetery. It... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 3:31:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Graduation day is long awaited by many and Amy Kiso Bledsoe is no exception. Bledsoe was... More >>
13 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 2:47:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri struggles with the epidemic of opioid abuse, no place in the state has been... More >>
15 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 1:10:14 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A furnace malfunction caused a fire in a trailer home on Pratherville Road Saturday morning. Gale... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 12:05:48 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — People returning to Kansas City after being released from prison will get a 90-day supply... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:25:12 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Firefighters responded to a shed fire off of Highway 40 near Rocheport Saturday morning. Boone County... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:04:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials with the University of Missouri-Kansas City say students will soon have access to state-of-the-art... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:16:45 AM CST December 16, 2017 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Cat cafes have popped up across the world in cities including New York City, London and Tokyo, and... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 7:36:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Some Jefferson City kids are getting the chance at a Merry Christmas this year with the help... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 12:00:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has confirmed it has fired Trooper Anthony Piercy. KOMU 8 spoke to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:42:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - St. Louis officers arrested a suspect that was on the run in a duplex on Sears Court in... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The application for the top education position in the state, Missouri State Education Board Commissioner, opened Friday leaving... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:02:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 45°
5am 44°
6am 44°
7am 42°
8am 42°