Manage episode 329299651 series 2995746
Every minute several huge "snowballs" break up as they approach the Earth and deposit a large cloud of water vapor in Earth's upper atmosphere according to our Guest Dr. Louis Frank. He calculated that about 20 comets enter the atmosphere each minute. At that rate, the steady stream of comets would have added about one inch of water to the Earth's oceans every 20,000 years -- enough to fill the oceans over billions of years.
Louis A. Frank (1938-2014) A native of Chicago, Frank's first professional research activities began in 1958 when he assisted James Van Allen in the calibration of the first U.S. lunar probes, Pioneers 3 and 4, as an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa. Later, Frank was the principal investigator for the auroral imaging instruments for the Dynamics Explorer Mission, the plasma instrumentation for the Galileo Mission to Jupiter, the U.S. plasma instrumentation for the Japanese Geotail spacecraft, and the camera for visible wavelengths for the Polar spacecraft of the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) Program. His scientific accomplishments were many: he discovered the theta aurora, the remarkable configuration of auroral and polar cap luminosities that looks like the Greek letter theta hovering above the polar cap; he made the first measurements of the plasma ring around Jupiter and Saturn; and he was the first to measure solar-wind plasma funneling directly into the Earth's polar atmosphere, as well as the belt of ions around the Earth known as the ring current. Frank was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and the recipient of the National Space Act Award.
From the Archives: This live interview was recorded on March 14, 2002 on the nationally syndicated radio program, hosted by Laura Lee . See more at www.lauralee.com