“Humanity has touched the sun”

A NASA probe has entered the sun’s atmosphere and “touched” the blazing corona, in a first for solar science.

The Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018, conducted seven flybys of the sun before dipping into the corona during its eighth flyby on April 28, 2021. It made three trips into the sun’s atmosphere, one of which lasted for 5 hours, mission scientists reported at a press briefing on Tuesday (Dec. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union…

Solar winds and solar flares — swift eruptions of solar radiation — can affect electrical grids and disrupt communication networks on Earth, and the new data from the probe provides an unprecedented glimpse into these solar events, the researchers reported Dec. 14 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

“Our voyage is revealing a range of surprises as we venture into new places,” Nour Raouafi, Project Scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and a researcher at The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said at the briefing. “The new physics we are learning about the immediate solar environment and the solar wind is mind-boggling.”

Most interesting news of the day…in a long, long time.

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