Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun

The Sun and the Exploding Sea

August 19, 2019

In 1972, in the waning years of the Vietnam War, U.S. military pilots flying south of Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam saw something unexpected. Without explanation, and without warning, over two dozen sea mines suddenly exploded. While the phenomenon was never officially explained, it peaked the interest of geo-space scientist Delores Knipp.

Knipp is a research faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department and editor in chief for the AGU journal Space Weather. She originally wanted to be a meteorologist but joined the ROTC in a weather position right with the goal of staying for four years to pay off her student loans. Twenty-two years later, she retired after a career with the Air Force studying weather or space weather.

Being a scientist on an Air Force presented some unique opportunities to educate her colleagues, specifically answering questions like, “What is dark?” It might sound silly but it’s a big deal when determining flights schedules. But she really started diving into some of the more mysterious stuff after she retired.

In this Centennial episode of Third Pod from the Sun, Knipp provides a unique perspective about the role of space weather in shaping global policy and conflicts. From a chance phone call from a colleague encouraging her to solve a decades old mystery to pulling out clues from the obituary of an Air Force commander, Knipp unravels some of the biggest space weather mysteries that many of us have never heard of.

This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon and mixed by Collin Warren.