[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 15 - 10:22:14 ]
Hello! Today's QuestChat with astronomer Sten Odenwald will begin in approximately
40 minutes. Today Sten will answer your questions about the sun and the solar
system. Please, no astronaut-related questions (Sten is an astronomer!). Be sure
to read Sten's bio BEFORE coming to the chat-- http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/sso/team/odenwald.html
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 16 - 10:24:26 ]
RE: [MrRains-Mr.Rains/SuttonElem.School] Checking this
out. We've never participated in a project like this before.
Hello Mr. Rains! I'm here and I'm listening! You're right, the chat is still about
40 minutes away. Sten Odenwald will start answering questions at the top of the
hour. I'm really glad you could make it! Web chats are a lot of fun. Do you have
any questions before we start?
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 24 - 11:01:05 ]
Hello from Louisiana!
Hi Mr. Simoneaux and East Ascension High School! Glad you could make it back for
another chat! We will begin momentarily...
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 36 - 11:04:33 ]
Good evening from Italy. I'm a teacher in a Middle School. I have some questions
from my students. Can I write them all at once or one at once?
Please send you questions one at a time or it will take too long for Dr. Odenwald
to answer them. Thanks :-)
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 38 - 11:04:46 ]
RE: [Katelyn/SanVicenteISD-DJ/SanVicenteISD] Does the
sun really pulse?
Yes the sun does actually vibrate in many hundreds of different frequencies...especially
a very prominent 5-minute oscillation. Visit the Stanford University's Helioseismology
web site for details
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 40 - 11:06:03 ]
When did ya'll start the Sun Project
About a month ago...in the next month or so we will have a number of solar scientists
and engineers doing this 'chat' service to help you all understand how the sun
works, and how the earth is affected...cool stuff.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 47 - 11:07:49 ]
RE: [Rachel/SanVicenteISD-DJ/SanVicenteISD] What evidence
is there that supports that is another planet/s past Pluto?
There is no real evidence so far. The orbits of the outer planets are known to
be 'chaotic' which can make it look like a large object might be perturbing their
orbits. So far, about 70 objects have ben detected beyond the orbit of neptune,
but these all seem to be smaller than about 300 kilometers...probably comet nuclei
in the making.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 50 - 11:08:36 ]
RE: [Josh-JoshConverse/WilliamsTechMiddleSchool] Dr.
Odenwald, what do believe in the field of extraterrestrial life?
There probably are lots of extra terrestrials...but they are mostly bacteria of
various species....but we dont know. really.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 51 - 11:09:14 ]
RE: [Lisa-Lisa/BayportH.S.] I was wondering if you
could tell me some things on space technology. I'm doing a project on space technology
for my sociology class
That's an incredibly broad topic...I cant rally answer a question that broad.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 56 - 11:11:20 ]
How long will the SOHO Probe be in Orbit?
SOHO...the Solar heliospheric Observatory, will probably stay at the L1 lagrange
point for many years before various tuggs and pulls eventually move it out of
this gravitationally stable location 1.5 million miles sunward of the earth...as
for science. It is now in its extended mission which will only last about 2 years...after
that, NASA will probably have to decommission it to make way for supporting other
space observatories...even if SOHO is still working.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 60 - 11:12:34 ]
EVERYONE: LET'S HOLD UP ON THE QUESTIONS FOR 5 MINUTES! There is only one Sten
answering all of your questions and he's typing as fast as he can! Thanks!
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 61 - 11:12:35 ]
RE: [MrSimoneaux-Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] What
causes the sun to pulsate or vibrate?
We dont know for certain...but it has a very noisy interior containing deep convection
cells. the acoustic energy from these cells probably drive some of the oscillation
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 65 - 11:14:34 ]
RE: [Rhalie-Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] How do solar
flares affect communication signals on earth?
Solar flares produce intense pulses of X-rays which, when the hit the ionosphere,
cause enhanced daytime ionization. This causes short-wave 'black outs' that last
from 20 minutes to several hours, until chemical 'recombination' processes can
reduce the number of ions per cubic centimeter, to the normal daytime levels produced
by ultraviolet photo-ionization.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 70 - 11:17:01 ]
RE: [Lisa-Lisa/BayportH.S.] What about Near Earth Objects?
I heard that a comet or asteroid is supposed to hit sometime in 2030. I also heard
that it will miss us by a hair. Do you know anything about this?
new data shows that the object predicted early this year to impact the earth on
October 28, 2028 will actually miss us by up to 600,000 miles. This doesnt mean,
however, that among the 20+ asteroids discovered each year that in the future
one of these will not impact us. There is currently a list of over 100 asteroids
which are 'on watch'. their orbits come so close to the earth that they are considered
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 72 - 11:17:30 ]
EVERYONE: There are 80 people signed up for today's chat with Sten. He is going
to try very hard to answer everyone's questions, so if you can, please hold up
sending anymore questions for another 5 minutes so that Sten can catch up! Thank
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 74 - 11:18:35 ]
RE: [Rachel/SanVicenteISD-DJ/SanVicenteISD] Is it possible
to live on another planet? What life support would you need to bring with you
to live on another planet?
Surr...its possible, but setting up such a colony is very expensive...even prohibitively
so. So long as we stay in the inner solar system out to Mars, manned exploration
is relatively cheap. the costs escalate dramatically as you look towards Jupiter
and beyond which are 1/2 a billion miles away or more.
[ Lisa-Lisa/BayportH.S. - 76 - 11:19:02 ]
Thanks Dr. Odenwald, I appreciate it. You don't know how much this is helping
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 79 - 11:20:18 ]
RE: [Katelyn/SanVicenteISD-DJ/SanVicenteISD] How long
do you think it will take to get the International space station up in space?
If all goes smoothly..they will stay on schedule. many people have worried that
there is a good probability of a shuttlke accident involving loss of life, or
that an unusual barrage of solar storms will make spacewalking a real hazard.
These factors could delay assembly by many years...we just dint know...but now
that we have started the process we have to finish it.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 84 - 11:22:44 ]
RE: [Josh-JoshConverse/WilliamsTechMiddleSchool] In
about how many billion years will it take for the sun to "burn itself out"?
The best calculations indicate that in 6 billion years the sun will become a red
giant and incinerate mercury, venus and probably the earth. by 500 million years
from now, the normal gradual increase in the suns luminosity will have increased
terrestrial average temperatures by anywhere from 20 to 50 degrees. the biosphere
will contract and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere will increase as
the oceans start to evaporate. By 1 billion years the earth will be locked in
a venus-style greenhouse with am extinct biosphere.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 89 - 11:24:07 ]
RE: [Ava-Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] What would happen
if the Earth's axis was not tilted???
We would not have the kinds of seasons we now have...the details are rather complicated
depending on what latitude you were on.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 90 - 11:24:55 ]
How long are comets life span?
We dont know...some comets come back for thousands of years...like Halley's Comet.
Others plunge into the sun nearly on their first orbit.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 91 - 11:25:44 ]
Is it possible to create an artificial ozone layer to cover the already enlarging
No..the simplest thing to do is to stop destroying it in the first place. the
hole will eventually heal itself in a few decades...so the experts say.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 93 - 11:26:43 ]
RE: [Asha-Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] Is it possible
for people to stand on an asteroid? (with proper space equipment)
You probably can, at least on the largest asteroids...but the gravity is so weak
that for most asteroids you can jump into orbit..or escape that way.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 98 - 11:28:57 ]
RE: [Pat-PatSotile/AscensionParish] Hello, We are from
Lowery Middle School. We are glad to enter this chat.
Hi Pat! Welcome to our chat with astronomer Sten Odenwald! We're glad to have
you here today. Do you have a question for Sten?
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 99 - 11:29:02 ]
Do any other planets have windstorms or tornadoes besides the sun and Jupiter?
If so, what causes them?
Hmm..tornadoes and hurricanes are caused by the motions of warm and cold air masses
on planets that rotate. This is such a general prescription that mars, jupiter,
saturn, uranus and neptune have them as a good bet...but actually I wonder about
uranus and neptune because if the atmospheres are too cold and homogeneous, there
will not be enough differential winds to start the process going. Probably need
to talk to a meteorologist!
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 102 - 11:30:00 ]
How hot is the sun?
It depends on where you are...in the center its about 15 million K, at the surface
its 5,770 K, in the corona its about 2 million K...all due to different physical
processes going on.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 104 - 11:31:14 ]
what is the nearest star?
Proxima Centauri is at 4.2 light years...but actually it is in orbit around Alpha
Centauri at 4.3 light years.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 108 - 11:32:45 ]
Do you think Halley's Comet will ever die out?When?
Its hard to really say...it is losing mass, so certainly in the distant future
it will have to be reduced to a pile of non-volatile rocks and meteoroids...but
given its present orbit and the forecasts, it looks like it is good for perhaps
another few dozen returns at least.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 113 - 11:35:02 ]
How hot is the sun's middle layer?
Hmm..it depends on how you define 'middle layer' At 487,000 km from the center
the temperatire is 1 million K, and by 627,000 km the models predict a temperature
near 310,000 K. between 689,000 and 696,000 just below the surface the temperature
drops from about 52,000 K to 5,770 K.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 115 - 11:36:07 ]
RE: [Pat-PatSotile/AscensionParish] Can we set up a
videoconference with someone at a later date?
Pat: Send me email to firstname.lastname@example.org
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 116 - 11:36:32 ]
RE: [Pat-PatSotile/AscensionParish] Do you think that
life exists on any other planets?
yes I do..but it is strictly a BELIEF. I think the universe is quite filthy with
bacteria of all types. There are probably even quite a few planets with complex
organic life...It just seems to me that 'life' is very hardy and can adapt to
lots of different physical environments...at least bacterial life forms.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 119 - 11:37:46 ]
How large is the sun in comparison to other stars?
According to mass...the most massive star is about 200 times the mass of the sun...the
least massive is about 0.04 times the suns mass. Physical dimensions span the
gamut from neutron stars at 20 km radius, to Mu Cephi with a radius nearly the
size of neptunes orbit
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 121 - 11:39:42 ]
Why would you explode if you didn't have a suit on in space
You wouldnt explode at all...why do you think the 'pound' puts stray dogs into
decompression chambers/ All that happens is that your blood and intercellular
fluids evaporate out of your body and you, essentially, dehydrate, in a matter
of an hour or so. Presumably you can survive 10 - 20 seconds in a pure vacuum
without a space suit...but your skin capillaries will make you look like a blue
mess after a while.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 126 - 11:41:43 ]
RE: [Jim-JimChamberlain/AZTek] Why is the ozone layer
helpful, but ozone at ground level is harmful? Also you can buy ozone generating
machines for your home.
Ozone in the upper atmosphere absorbs ultravilooet radiation that tries to reach
ground...ozone at the ground is very harmful and a toxin to many body chemical
cycles...Home Ozone generators produce very little ozone and gives your noes the
illusion of fresh air..or it locks onto the surface of dust particles and makes
them reactive so that they can be washed out of the air.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 128 - 11:42:48 ]
How long did it take you to complete your education
Hmmm..it took 4 years in college, and then another 6 years in graduate school
at Harvard to get my Phd in 1982.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 130 - 11:43:43 ]
RE: [Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] bye
Goodbye! Thanks so much for joining us today! Hope you will come back and chat
with us again!
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 133 - 11:44:57 ]
What signs or talents should I be on the lookout for to know if I want to be an
Hmm...No intimidation about math..a precocious curiosity about physical science
leading to a high aptitude in physics compared to your other classmates. You might
also have astronomy as your hobby, which means you read Sky and telescope magazine
to keep up with the discoveries...and so you have a basic knowledge of terms.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 135 - 11:46:25 ]
RE: [Torey-Mr.Simoneaux/EastAscensionHS] Why did you
whant to be an astronomer
I thought space was really cool when I was 10 years old...and the Science Fiction
program Outer Limits got me excited about aliens in space. I was astonished that
scientists actually knew a LOT about space, and I wanted to learn all about it
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 136 - 11:47:44 ]
I thought that the only reason you can survive on earth is because of equal pressure.
In a vaccuum, there is unequal pressure. I thought6 that the presure on the inside
of your body would push outward until you exploded because there is no presure
pushing against it?
No..human skin is not elastic like a balloon...it is pretty darn tough stuff.
But even skin breaks down as the cells inside it lose their water...you turn into
a dried up Inca Mummy.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 137 - 11:49:28 ]
What keeps the earth from being pulled into the sun or into other planets?
Something called 'inertia'. It is constantly trying to move in a straight line
consistent with its speed of 30 km/sec, but the suns gravity keeps pulling it
at right-angles to its motion. When you work the physics, you end up with an elliptical
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 138 - 11:49:56 ]
Do you know Italian astronomers and cooperate with them?
Actually..no I dont.
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 139 - 11:50:09 ]
EVERYONE: There are about 10 minutes left in today's chat. The Quest Team would
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[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 141 - 11:52:03 ]
RE: [Josh-JoshConverse/WilliamsTechMiddleSchool] I
want to do a computational science project on a topic relating to either life
in the universe or black holes, however, I am only taking algebra. Any suggestions
for a more limited topic?
Hmm..that's a big challenge. The problem is that most of the really exotic problems
that have 'algebra' in them, require you to know a level of physics that you will
not really acquire until you are in college. If 'E = mc^2' or 'F = ma' seem hard
to intuitively underdstand, there are a lot more difficult concepts that also
require just algebra to really understand.
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 144 - 11:53:09 ]
RE: [Josh-JoshConverse/WilliamsTechMiddleSchool] do
you think stuff in science fiction will soon become real, like warp speed etc.etc.
No..but I am, and have always ben, an avid science fiction fan. I love Babylon
V and am very sad its 5th season is over...sob...sob!
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 145 - 11:54:20 ]
Thank you very much. I liked this experience!
We're so glad you joined us today! Please come back and chat with us again! A
new chat schedule will appear soon at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/sso
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 146 - 11:54:29 ]
RE: [Bob-Mr.Hitt/GraysHarborCollege] Why is the release
of energy so much greater for Helium fusion than Hydrogen fusion?
For that, you will have to examine the curve of 'binding energy per nucleon' sorry
I cant be more helpful in this chat session on this technical point!
[ Odenwald/Astronomer - 148 - 11:57:41 ]
Ok everyone..SO long for now!! Great questions one and all!! Dr. odenwald
[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 150 - 11:58:24 ]
EVERYONE: Today's chat with astronomer Sten Odenwald has come to an end. Congratulations
on all the fantastic questions you sent in-- you did your homework! Check the
chat schedule for future chats with Sten: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/sso Chat with
you again very soon!