The 38th Annual Karl F. Herzfeld Memorial Lecture

“ Extreme Exploration - Parker Solar Probe Trailblazing Around the Sun”

Nour E. Raouafi, Ph.D.
Principal Professional Staff
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and
Project Scientist of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission

Friday, April 14, 2023 - 4:00 PM
Karl F. Herzfeld Auditorium of Hannan Hall - Rm 108

Human curiosity and interest in the near-Sun environment date back millennia, as numerous historical records show. The confluence of these motives results from our existence and life depending upon Sun. Life on Earth (and maybe elsewhere in the solar system and on other habitable stellar worlds) might never have started without solar magnetic activity in conjunction with the Sun's light and heat.nour-raouafi-sm.jpg
In addition, magnetic activity in the solar atmosphere can affect the Earth's environment in many ways, often adversely. Over the past few decades, we made significant strides in understanding the near-Sun environment and how it affects our planetary system. We owe these insights to targeted space missions, ground observations, and significant improvements in numerical modeling. Cutting-edge technology allows exploring this complex system in ways thought nearly impossible not long ago. Launched on 12 Aug. 2018, NASA's Parker Solar Probe is now venturing closer to the Sun than ever —8.5 million kilometers [0.057 AU] from the Sun's surface by March 2023— providing unparalleled insights into phenomena known for decades but still not understood, such as the heating and acceleration of the solar wind. The spacecraft successfully incorporates technological breakthroughs to attain new science: Parker Solar Probe crossed a technological barrier by protecting sensitive spacecraft and payload components from the harsh solar environment.  The mission's primary science goal is to determine the structure and dynamics of the Sun's coronal magnetic field, understand how the solar corona and wind are heated and accelerated, and determine what processes accelerate energetic particles. I will provide an overview of the mission's most outstanding discoveries and the outlook as the solar activity rises to the solar cycle maximum.

Reception Immediately Follows the Lecture

If you have any questions about the Herzfeld Lecture or would like to make a donation to the Herzfeld Lecture Memorial Fund please contact the Department of Physics, or (202) 319-5315.

  • Karl Herzfeld

    Karl Herzfeld

    The lecture series is named after Karl Herzfeld, former professor and chair of the Department of Physics.

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