Saturday 23 February 2013

Klaus Batzner at CERN, February 2013

February has been a sparse month for me in terms of solar observation with poor weather here in the UK, however in the latter half of the month when the clear skies of high pressure sat over the country I was visiting CERN in Switzerland.  Whilst frustrating in the sense I was not at home over the half term break to capitalise on the clear skies, the experience at CERN is something else again.  

I was privileged to enjoy conversation (and a beer!) at length with the great Klaus Batzner.  Klaus is a very humble man in terms of his own achievements, but from anyone else perspective his achievements are astonishing, and previously unknown to me have solar connections.  Klaus was in the class of 1947 at Gymnasium Leonhard in Basel, Switzerland before commencing his studies at the University of Bern.  In the early 1960's Klaus started his work and research at  CERN when the director at the time was Victor Frederick Weisskopf, 10 directors and 50 years later and Klaus is still at CERN!

Klaus is a rare breed - both scientist and and engineer; normally physicists come up with ideas and it is the job of the engineer to physically manufacture things, however Klaus could do both.
This photo taken at CERN in June 1979 shows council members visiting the technology exhibition.  Klaus Batzner makes a demonstration; Gerhard Fisher and Wolfgang Paul observe on the background (centre).

Klaus initial work concentrated on particle accelerators and particle physics, and was a key member of the team who worked on the Proton Synchrotron; The Proton Synchrotron (PS) is a key component in CERN’s accelerator complex, where it accelerates protons delivered by the PS Booster or heavy ions from the Low Energy Ion Ring.  Below is a montage picture I took of the LEIR on my visit.

The heavy metre thick concrete blocks can be seen surrounding the machine to protect from high radiation levels.  Lead ions for the LHC start from a source of vaporised lead and enter LINAC3 before being collected and accelerated in the Low Energy Ion Ring (LEIR).

Ions from the PS then pass onto to the Super Proton Synchrotron where Klaus worked on the team that earned Simon Van der Meer the Nobel prize for physics in 1984 for the contributions to the CERN project that led to the discovery of the W & Z particles, two of the most important contituents of matter.

Klaus can be seen on the right hand side of this image with Simon Van der Meer and Hans-Otto Wuster.  The image below was taken in June 1976.  After the acceleration to 80 GeV in May the 200 GeV energy was attained on June 4, followed by a successful attempt to reach 300 GeV and then 400 GeV by the Council session on June 17. Here at the desk (centre) Boris Milman and Bas de Raad, (right) Pat Mills and a machine operator. Then standing on the back Jacques Althaber, Simon Van der Meer, Hans-Peter Kindermann, Raymond Rausch, John Adams, Klaus Batzner, and still back Antonio Millich, Jim Allaby, Wim Middelkoop, Bo Angerth, Hans Horisberger.

Not only working with particle physics and accelerators, Klaus then turned his work towards space flight.  Klaus was an engineer on the Ulysses space probe: The Shuttle Discovery launched the Ulysses spacecraft on October 6, 1990. To reach high solar latitudes, the spacecraft was aimed close to Jupiter so that Jupiter's large gravitational field would accelerate Ulysses out of the ecliptic plane to high latitudes.

Encounter with Jupiter occurred on February 8, 1992, and since then Ulysses traveled to higher latitudes with maximum Southern latitude of 80.2 degrees being achieved on September 13, 1994. Ulysses traveled through high Northern latitudes during June through September 1995. These high latitude observations were obtained during the quiet (minimum) portion of the 11-year solar cycle.

In order to fully understand our amazing star, it was necessary to study the Sun at near maximum conditions. During the Solar Maximum mission, Ulysses reached maximum Southern latitude on November 27, 2000 and traveled through High Northern latitude September through December 2001.

After more than 12 years in flight, Ulysses has returned a wealth of data that has led to a much broader understanding of the Global Structure of the Sun's environment-the heliosphere.

The primary mission of the Ulysses spacecraft was to characterize the heliosphere as a function of solar latitude. The heliosphere is the vast region of interplanetary space occupied by the Sun's atmosphere and dominated by the outflow of the solar wind. The periods of primary scientific interest is when Ulysses was at or higher than 70 degrees latitude at both the Sun's south and north poles. On 26 June 1994, Ulysses reached 70 degrees south. There it began a four-month observation from high latitudes of the complex forces at work in the Sun's outer atmosphere-the corona.

Scientists have long studied the Sun from Earth using Earth-based sensors. More recently, solar studies have been conducted from spaceborne platforms; however, these investigations have been mostly from the ecliptic plane (the plane in which most of the planets travel around the Sun) and no previous spacecraft have reached solar latitudes higher than 32 degrees. Now that Ulysses high latitude data is available, scientists from the joint NASA and ESA mission are obtaining new and better understanding of the processes going on at high solar latitudes.

The following video gives a bit of a historical perspective on the Ulysses Mission:

Klaus Batzner, a great physicist and engineer!  Thank you for the time you spent talking to me.