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The Mystery of Solar Winds Hitting Earth Finally Revealed

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Earth is constantly bombarded by winds coming from the centre of our Solar System, yet the problem that has been puzzling scientists is why the solar winds that reach our planet are hotter than they should be, in defiance of the laws of physics.

New research seems to have solved the question of why particles making up the plasma of the Sun’s heliosphere – in other words, solar winds – take such a long time to cool as they reach our planet.

As the Sun expels plasma, laws of physics demand that the wind should cool as it expands through space. However, this doesn’t happen to the predicted degree.

According to a peer-reviewed study, “Electron temperature of the solar wind”, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), University of Wisconsin-Madison physicists offer an explanation for this discrepancy in solar wind temperature.

Physicist Stas Boldyrev from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and his colleagues, UW-Madison physics professors Cary Forest and Jan Egedal sought the answer in the related field of plasma physics.

“People have been studying the solar wind since its discovery in 1959, but there are many important properties of this plasma which are still not well understood,” says Stas Boldyrev.

The scientist adds that while originally researchers thought solar wind should cool rapidly as it expands away from the Sun, satellite measurements proved the opposite, as its temperature was occasionally “10 times larger than expected.”

In their research the team used laboratory equipment to study moving plasma to reach the conclusion that the solution lies in electrons that can’t escape the Sun’s grip.

Solar Plasma

Solar plasma is a mix of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions, and as such is influenced by magnetic fields that extend into space.

ESA&NASA/SOHO
The coronal mass ejection that occurred on May 13, 2013, after a solar flare.

Escaping the Sun’s corona, the hot plasma flows through space as solar wind.

Electrons in the plasma are much lighter particles than the ions, generating a speed some 40 times faster.

As more negatively charged electrons elude its grasp, the Sun takes on a positive charge, in turn rendering it more difficult for electrons to escape its pull, sometimes putting them back into its vicinity.

“Such returning electrons are reflected so that they stream away from the Sun, but again they cannot escape because of the attractive electric force of the Sun… So, their destiny is to bounce back and forth, creating a large population of so-called trapped electrons.” says Boldyrev.

‘Mirror Machines’

When solar wind was first discovered, scientists had puzzled over how to confine plasm, developing “mirror machines”.

These were plasma-filled magnetic field lines shaped as tubes, with the charged particles in the plasma traveling along the lines to reach the bottleneck. The magnetic field lines are pinched, with the pinch acting like a mirror and reflecting particles back into the machine.

“But some particles can escape, and when they do, they stream along expanding magnetic field lines outside the bottle. Because the physicists want to keep this plasma very hot, they want to figure out how the temperature of the electrons that escape the bottle declines outside this opening. It’s very similar to what’s happening in the solar wind that expands away from the sun,” said Boldyrev.

The team applied the same mirror machines theory to the solar wind, studying differences in the trapped and escaped particles.

The observations showed the very hot electrons escaping the bottle distributed their heat energy slowly to trapped electrons.

“In the solar wind, the hot electrons stream from the sun to very large distances, losing their energy very slowly and distributing it to the trapped population. It turns out that our results agree very well with measurements of the temperature profile of the solar wind and they may explain why the electron temperature declines with the distance so slowly,” said Boldyrev.

The team’s findings suggest ways to study solar wind phenomena further in research labs and learn more about solar wind properties in other star systems.

Updated on April 19, 2020 by Harry Miller

Credit: sputniknews.com

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Tesla's Musk earns $770M in stock options, company confirms – Powell River Peak

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DETROIT — Tesla confirmed Thursday that CEO Elon Musk will get the first tranche worth nearly $770 million of a stock-based compensation package triggered by the company meeting several financial metrics.

The electric car and solar panel maker’s board certified that Musk earned the big payout, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing says Musk can buy 1.69 million shares of Tesla stock for $350.02 each, but it wasn’t clear whether he had exercised the stock options. His payout is based on the difference between the option price and Thursday’s closing share price of $805.81.

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Musk earned the options as part of an audacious compensation package approved by the board in 2018.

According to the filing, the board certified that Tesla had reached the milestones by hitting $20 billion in total revenue for four previous quarters and a total market value of $100 billion. The company also reached $1.5 billion in adjusted pretax earnings, but that must still be certified by the board, the filing said.

Musk has to hold the stock for a minimum of five years, under the terms of the compensation package.

Musk can afford to wait before cashing in on his latest windfall, given his wealth is estimated at $39 billion by Forbes magazine.

All told, the incentives approved by Tesla’s board in 2018 consist of 20.3 million stock options that will be doled out in 12 different bundles if the company is able to reach progressively more difficult financial goals. It’s one of the biggest corporate pay packages in U.S. history.

In order for Musk to receive all 20.3 million stock options, Tesla will have to generate adjusted annual earnings of $14 billion on annual revenue of $175 billion coupled with a market value of $650 billion. In the past four quarters, Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has reported adjusted earnings totalling $3.6 billion on revenue totalling $26 billion.

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SpaceX’s historic NASA astronaut launch debut on track for second attempt – Teslarati

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Rather than making history on May 27th, SpaceX’s highest-profile launch ever – Crew Dragon’s NASA astronaut launch debut – was scrubbed just minutes before liftoff by stormy Florida weather. Unfortunately, conditions appear to be even less favorable on Saturday and Sunday backup windows.

Weather trended well, until it didn’t

The day began with launch fans growing increasingly concerned about a system of low-pressure off of Florida’s northeast coast that strengthened into tropical storm Bertha – the second named storm before the official start of the Atlantic basin hurricane season on June 1st. As the day progressed, Bertha became less of a worry for SpaceX recovery and emergency abort drop zones as it moved further north up the coast eventually making landfall in South Carolina. Then the thunderstorms began firing up.

Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for build and flight reliability at SpaceX, looks at a monitor showing a live feed of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on the launch pad during the countdown for a launch attempt of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Going into launch day launch weather officer, Mike McAleenan of the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 60% chance of favorable launch weather conditions. That decreased slightly to 50% during the morning’s launch weather briefing. The 50/50 shot of Florida weather cooperating to get the launch off during the one-second long launch window opportunity remained the main concern for the rest of the day.

An ominous thunderstorm rolls over LC-39A ahead of SpaceX’s ultimately scrubbed first attempt to launch the Crew Dragon Demo-2 test flight on Wednesday, May 27th. (Credit: Richard Angle for Teslarati)

During the final thirty minutes of the countdown, many of the weather constraints that were holding up a green-light for launch from cleared up, but one last weather rule remained no-go. McAleenan stated over the internal weather communication loop during NASA’s live broadcast that if the launch window could’ve extended another 10 minutes, the weather would probably cooperate. This wasn’t the case, though. The launch attempt was ultimately aborted just 14 minutes shy of liftoff due to the “field mill” rule not clearing in time. The lightning field mill rule refers to a sophisticated electrical field system that spans the entire area of Kennedy Space Center and the surrounding area of Cape Canaveral responsible for continuously detecting the electrical charge of the atmosphere.

Protecting rockets from producing lightning

Rockets are not permitted to launch through an electrically charged atmosphere because of the possibility of what is called “triggered” lightning – lightning that is actually produced by a rocket bursting through an electrically charged atmosphere. Sending a rocket through an already unstable atmosphere can cause a disturbance, a lightning bolt, to be triggered. This phenomenon has the capability of being potentially dangerous for the rocket and, more importantly in this case, the occupants on board.

A very helpful infographic published by the 45th Weather Squadron regarding the natural and triggered lightning launch rules. (Credit: 45th Weather Squadron)

Demo-2, Round 2

Following a scrubbed first attempt, the 45th Weather Squadron released the L-3 (3 days until launch) forecast for the second attempt to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. The prediction looked much like the one going into Wednesday’s attempt. On Thursday morning, May 28th, a new L-2 (2 days until launch) forecast was released showing very little change from the evening before.

SpaceX’s next attempt at a Demo-2 launch will occur on Saturday, May 30th, at 3:22:41pm EDT with another backup attempt scheduled for Sunday, May 31st at 3:00:07pm EDT. The outlook for the weather, however, looks much the same as it did for Wednesday. The 45th Weather Squadron is currently predicting only a 40% chance of favorable launching conditions on both days, and that’s just for the weather directly over LC-39A at the time of launch.

A L-3 weather forcast provided by the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron outlines a 40% chance of acceptable weather conditions at time of launch for SpaceX’s back-up attempt to lauch the first ever crewed mission, Demo-2, on Saturday, May 30th. (Credt: U.S. Space Force – 45th Weather Squadron)

The 45th Weather Squadron does not predict other conditions that can determine a scrub of launch including upper-level atmospheric winds capable of completely sheering apart a rocket at altitude, or weather conditions for booster recovery and the recovery zones needed to rescue the Dragon capsule in the event of an emergency abort scenario. SpaceX has its own team of professionals that work in tandem with the 45th Weather Squadron to monitor the conditions of the recovery and abort zones. SpaceX takes things into consideration like wave height and patterns to determine whether or not conditions are appropriate enough for crews to perform any and all recovery operations that may be needed.

For Saturday’s attempt, the SpaceX Demo-2 will once again face the challenges of precipitation and dangerous lightning producing anvil and cumulus clouds. Expect launch day to look much like it did during the first attempt on Wednesday. SpaceX will need to thread one seriously precise needle to pull off the most historic rocket launch in company history.

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes.

SpaceX’s historic NASA astronaut launch debut on track for second attempt




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Tesla's Musk earns $770M in stock options, company confirms – OttawaMatters.com

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DETROIT — Tesla confirmed Thursday that CEO Elon Musk will get the first tranche worth nearly $770 million of a stock-based compensation package triggered by the company meeting several financial metrics.

The electric car and solar panel maker’s board certified that Musk earned the big payout, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing says Musk can buy 1.69 million shares of Tesla stock for $350.02 each, but it wasn’t clear whether he had exercised the stock options. His payout is based on the difference between the option price and Thursday’s closing share price of $805.81.

Musk earned the options as part of an audacious compensation package approved by the board in 2018.

According to the filing, the board certified that Tesla had reached the milestones by hitting $20 billion in total revenue for four previous quarters and a total market value of $100 billion. The company also reached $1.5 billion in adjusted pretax earnings, but that must still be certified by the board, the filing said.

Musk has to hold the stock for a minimum of five years, under the terms of the compensation package.

Musk can afford to wait before cashing in on his latest windfall, given his wealth is estimated at $39 billion by Forbes magazine.

All told, the incentives approved by Tesla’s board in 2018 consist of 20.3 million stock options that will be doled out in 12 different bundles if the company is able to reach progressively more difficult financial goals. It’s one of the biggest corporate pay packages in U.S. history.

In order for Musk to receive all 20.3 million stock options, Tesla will have to generate adjusted annual earnings of $14 billion on annual revenue of $175 billion coupled with a market value of $650 billion. In the past four quarters, Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has reported adjusted earnings totalling $3.6 billion on revenue totalling $26 billion.

The Associated Press

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