The research focus of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research is our cosmic neighborhood: the solar system with its planets and moons, comets and asteroids as well as the sun. The aim of the scientists is to describe the processes in the solar system in models and to simulate them on the computer. In addition, instruments are being developed and built to study these bodies from space. The Institute is involved in numerous space missions. More info.
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In cosmic comparison, the Sun is a bore. While the brightness of some other stars with similar characteristics fluctuates strongly, the Sun’s variations are much more moderate. Scientists from MPS have now investigated how exactly sun- and starspots affect this behavior. In addition to the number and size of the spots, their distribution plays a crucial role. If groups of sunspots were to appear more frequently clumped together in so-called nests, the Sun’s brightness variations could well keep up with those of its cosmic peers.
In the past one and a half years, the Sun has been rather dull: hardly a sunspot covered its surface, hardly a solar flare hurled radiation and particles into space. As observational data now show, for the last nine months solar activity has been slowly picking up again. This confirms predictions made by the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, an international panel of experts, in March last year. The panel, whose members include Dr. Robert Cameron from MPS in Germany, expects the Sun to be as tame in the now beginning solar cycle 25 as it has been in the previous eleven years.
The sensor JEI, which will from 2029 onwards study the distribution of high-energetic electrons and ions in the Jovian system on board ESA's JUICE spacecraft, has been completed. JUICE is scheduled to be launched in 2022, but JEI's journey has already begun. The sensor, which over the past three years has been developed, built, and tested at MPS, arrived at the University of Bern (Switzerland). In the department "Space Research & Planetary Sciences" of the Institute of Physics, JEI will now integrated with other sensors of the instrument package PEP.
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