This is from the Wattsupwiththat.com page, a nice graph of NOAA.gov data. The part I like is comparing the signal from January 2000 to December 2012. I believe we have a winner. Of course, in time we will have the real answer, but I think we have maxed around 80 – 85 sunspots vs. 120 ish from January 2000. I think we will have a mild level of activity for the next three years, then it will tail off back to near zero again.
Basically, for those who didn’t harden their spacecraft, You got away with it this time. If I were to plan a mission to Mars, I’d set a launch in 2014, for three years of clear sailing. Be back safe at home before 2023, because that might be a rough year. No idea, we could Dalton minimum for fifty years, but we could go back to high flux cycles just as easily.
There is no science to predicting the upcoming solar cycles. We can simply look over the last 100 years and pick .. “Oh Oh I like number 4!” Thats not prediction, that is going to the Kentucky Derby and saying “I bet a horse wins the race!” I’ll be willing to guarantee that 1) the solar cycle continues 2) the next peak will be around 2023 – 2025, and 3) the sun will surprise us on every other detail.
Hey, don’t touch that, its hot!