Mary Robinette Kowal Profile picture
Aug 9, 2018 17 tweets 10 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
We're sitting down for a Q&A with Dr. Nicky Fox, @Dr_ThomasZ, and Dr. Eugene Parker about the Parker #SolarProbe

Dr. Z just did the mic check count with triangular numbers.

Dr. Z says he was at a conference and someone giving a talk said, "It's consistent with Parker's theory."
A voice. "Which one."
"Well-- I mean, the famous Eugene Paker."
Voice. "That's me. I wrote more than one paper. Which one are you citing?"

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
Dr. Parker, "I was sitting in my office doing something, probably not work, or at any rate nothing useful. They called to if they could put my name on the #Solarprobe. I was stunned. After we got off the phone I had to run through it again. But, that's what he said."

"When I was young, and I was once, it was not a foregone conclusion that just because you got your instrument on a rocket that you would have a success. We had perhaps a 50% success rate for launches." Dr. Parker

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"I will believe that there's a successful launch when there's successful launch. But I'll bet you ten bucks that there's a successful launch." Dr. Parker, (who is adorable and I am a little in love with him.)

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
What advice would you give?
"You don't want to get into science. Unless-- it fascinates you on the work level. Do you take pleasure in your studies? Do you get satisfaction in learning? Then I would recommend a career in science."

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"Your job is to force your mind to conform to facts rather than forcing facts to conform to your mind."

Dr. Eugene Parker

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"It is worth mentioning that the sunward side of the heat shield will be incandescent"

Dr. Parker

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
We know that the heat comes from waves, but this is over-simplified. It's like saying that rubbing your hands together causes heat from friction. Waves cause friction. But the interactions are where the science questions get interesting.

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"In the late 1940s I was looking at sunspots and why they formed, and thought 'Well, it'll be easy to knock this question out.' And we still don't know."

Dr. Parker
#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"When I was young, in my twenties, I submitted the paper on the solar wind, two editors rejected it. The editor who accepted it said he thought I was wrong but could find no errors."

Dr. Parker.

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
"It's easy to write a negative review. It's hard to write a critical one." -Dr. Eugene Parker

Wow... this is also so true for fiction.

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"If there is criticism, think about it carefully, because the referee might have a point. But if you've gone over it carefully, and are pretty sure you are right, stand up for it. And remember that you have physics on your side." Dr. Parker

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
Dr. Parker doesn't think we'll find anything except "routine" surprises as we move from being influenced mostly by the magnetic field to plasma. The equations are very good for understanding that. But in nature, there'll be tiny unanticipated variations.

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
It's really once we get into the corona itself that surprises will get interesting. For instance, why is it so much hotter than the surface? "I'll tell you that it's not sunshine."

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
Many thanks to @SolarGirl2018, @Dr_ThomasZ, and, of course, Dr. Eugene Parker, for a fantastic Q&A.

Go Parker #SolarProbe!


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More from @MaryRobinette

Aug 12, 2018
Good morning! Ready to try again for a rocket launch?

While you're waiting, remember that the Persiad meteor shower is also happening. You don't have to be in Florida to see it.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Granted, having written #thecalculatingstars there's a different resource to watching meteors while waiting for a rocket launch...

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Stargazing while waiting for launch.

By which I mean looking at stars through a telescope.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 13 tweets
Aug 11, 2018
2am and the sky looks clear. Who's ready for a rocket launch?

Why is the Parker #SolarProbe launching at night?

Because during the day it would be too hot to visit the sun...

We've arrived at the causeway and the rocket looks AMAZING lit up across the water. We're about 2.5 miles away.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Make sure you follow #NASAsocial because my fellow attendees have much better night cameras than I do for the Parker #SolarProbe launch.
Read 22 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Many thanks to @torybruno for stopping and talking to us.

I asked what he was excited about and he said "watching this big beautiful rocket launch and set new speed records."


#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
This really is a beautiful rocket.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The other thing @torybruno said was that it was hard to get a sense of scale. He felt it most when he went to the top. It's essentially a 30 story building.

Looking over the edge is...vertiginous.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 4 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Heading until the 45th Space Wing

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The MOC was built to consolidate range control into one location. Prior to this, Each SLC had a blockhouse to serve as mission control for the launch. They were only 100 yards from the rocket.

It was not...ideal safety conditions.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Now there's a single location to provide weather advisories to Patrick, the Cape, and KSC.

Lightning is the primary concern. Florida is a lightning capital with the 3rd highest strikes worldwide.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 5 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Don't mind me. I'm just hanging out on launch pad 39-b

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The pad is covered with these metal tabs. They exist to bolt 3/4 ply to in order to cushion the concrete from the weight of the crawler.

On the road, they use gravel.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The "business end" of the flame suppression trench.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 10 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Learning more about the crawler from Dan Schultz, one of the drivers.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The hard part is that of the VAB driver's job is that they can't see everything. Parts of the path are built at the max turning radius, which is 6° so they have to hit their marks very precisely.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
They have spotters that are about 20 feet ahead and the drivers rely on them for hitting their marks. There are 30 people involved in every move.

Driving it takes about 8 hours. Then there's loading and unloading, so 12-16 hour days are not uncommon.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 6 tweets

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