Is the sun getting stranger?
The mission will eventually make its closest approach to the sun—a mere four million miles—in December 2024. Already, the details it is beaming back to Earth are incredibly weird, and they’re teaching us valuable lessons about the way the sun works. In particular, data from the probe should help improve forecasts of so-called space weather—solar outbursts that can imperil astronauts, knock out power grids, and fry communications satellites. So as I warm myself up with holiday parties and festive sweaters, I’ll be raising a toast to the tiny probe that’s helping keep us safe from the sun’s wrath.
Mapped: Where permafrost is melting—and how it happens
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