“It could happen in a matter of months,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center.
29 Sep 2018 -“The sun is entering one of the deepest Solar Minima of the Space Age,” writes Dr Tony Phillips, editor of spaceweather.com. Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.
Data from NASA’s TIMED satellite show that the thermosphere (the uppermost layer of air around our planet) is cooling and shrinking, literally decreasing the radius of the atmosphere.
To help track the latest developments, Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center and his colleagues recently introduced the “Thermosphere Climate Index” (TCI), which tells how much heat nitric oxide (NO) molecules are dumping into space. During Solar Maximum, TCI is high (“Hot”); during Solar Minimum, it is low (“Cold”).
“Right now, it is very low indeed … 10 times smaller than we see during more active phases of the solar cycle,” says Mlynczak
“If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold,” says Mlynczak. “We’re not there quite yet, but it could happen in a matter of months.”
Thanks to John A. Brown, Craig Adkins, Loherchef, Laurel and Craig Adkins for this link
Dr. Tony Phillips was also (and perhaps still is) production editor of Science@NASA