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Science AMA Series: We’re NASA scientists. Ask us anything about the science of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse!
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Edit 12:46 PM ET: We are signing off! Thanks so much for all your questions. Remember to check out eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety to make sure you are ready to watch the eclipse safely! Happy eclipse watching! Edit 11:04 AM ET: We’re live! On Aug. 21, 2017, all of North America will have the chance to see a partial solar eclipse. Along a narrow, 70-mile-wide track called the path of totality, the Moon will totally block the Sun, revealing the Sun’s comparatively faint outer atmosphere – the corona. Total solar eclipses like this are a rare chance for solar scientists to study this region of the Sun, since we can’t ordinarily see it from the ground or with satellite instruments. The sudden blocking of light also gives Earth scientists a rare chance to track how Earth’s atmosphere responds to the Sun’s radiation. Find out more about NASA’s eclipse science (and how to watch the eclipse) at eclipse2017.nasa.gov. Noah Petro I first became interested in Geology as a student at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY. It was while I was a student at Bates College that I was introduced to the field of planetary geology. Following my PhD work at Brown University I came to NASA Goddard as a NASA Post-Doc. Alexa Halford I am a contractor at NASA Goddard. Throughout my education I have been lucky to work at JPL NASA looking at Uranus’s moons and study Saturn on the Cassini mission at the South West Research Institute. Today I stick a bit closer to home studying the Earth’s magnetic field and its space weather phenomena. Mitzi Adams I am a solar scientist for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), where I study the magnetic field of the Sun and how it affects the upper layer of the solar atmosphere, the corona. With a professional interest in sunspot magnetic fields and coronal bright points, friends have labelled me a “solar dermatologist”. Bill Cooke The head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, I help NASA in placing meteoroid protection on spacecraft and construct meteor shower forecasts for unmanned space vehicles and the International Space Station. While a graduate student at the University of Florida, I worked on instruments flying on board balloons, the Space Shuttle, Giotto (European mission to Halley’s Comet), and LDEF. After obtaining my PhD in Astronomy, I came to work at Marshall Space Flight Center as a member of the Space Environments Team, where I became an acknowledged expert in meteors and meteoroids. I am one of the many NASA astronomers interacting with the public on the upcoming solar eclipse. Jay Herman I am an atmospheric scientist working on several projects. Two of them are of interest to the eclipse or other atmospheric questions. 1) The Pandora Spectrometer Instrument that measures the solar spectrum and derives the amount of trace gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde, and 2) The DSCOVR/EPIC spacecraft instrument that observes the entire sunlit globe from sunrise to sunset from the Earth-Sun Lagrange-1 point (1 million miles from earth). We derive both atmospheric and surface properties from EPIC, and we will see the Moon’s shadow during the upcoming eclipse. Guoyong Wen I am an atmospheric scientist interested in the way radiation passes through the atmosphere. The experiment we are planning to perform is a combination of theory and measurements to see if they match. For this purpose we are using an advanced radiative transfer calculation in three dimensions and measurements from the ground and a spacecraft. Hopefully, the calculations and data will match. If not, we can learn about whatever may be missing. The result will be improved calculation capability. Edit 9:18 AM ET: Added Jay Herman’s bio Edit 11:11 AM ET: Added Guoyong Wen’s bio