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Scientists forecast lull in solar activity
Posted: Wed, Jun 15, 2011, 8:20 AM ET (1220 GMT)
Solar storm on 2010 August 2 (CfA) The Sun may be entering an extended period of relatively quiet activity, a development that has implications for space exploration and possibly the Earth's climate. Scientists said at a meeting Tuesday of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division in New Mexico that evidence was mounting that the Sun's activity would diminish, perhaps for an extended period. Solar scientists have not detected a zonal flow associated with the onset of a new cycle of solar activity, and others found a long-term weakening trend in sunspots. They conclude that the Sun may be entering an extended period of little or no solar activity, including few major solar storms. That lull could make interplanetary spaceflight safer for future human expeditions, since there would be less risk of major storms they would have to protect themselves from. A past quiet period of the Sun, the Maunder Minimum, coincided with a cool period in terrestrial climate called the Little Ice Age, although scientists said the link between solar activity and climate was uncertain.
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