Solar Probe One is Scheduled to Launch 2018

by Rachel Baker on September 26, 2013

There are so many questions when it comes to the Sun and its solar flairs. NASA is working to find the answers.

NASA is hard at work on a spacecraft known as Solar Probe One—the first mission designed to dip into the Sun’s outer atmosphere—and, more impressively, live to tell the tale. Slated for a 2018 launch, the craft will try to figure out why solar storms happen and how they send blasts of particles out to threaten Earth with electronic disaster.

But that’s only one focus of the mission. Another is to answer the 60-year-old mystery of how the Sun’s surface can hover at around 10,000°F (5,500°C) while the thin gas immediately above, known as the corona, is at least a hundred times hotter. Nobody fully understands how this can be. It might be caused by the Sun’s powerful magnetic fields, says Kasper, lead scientist for one of Solar Probe’s five instruments. Or it might have to do with the Sun’s turbulent, roiling surface, which triggers pressure waves that that dissipate their energy in the corona “like waves crashing on the beach.”

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