The sun keeps getting stranger, dive-bombing solar probe shows
Initial results from the Parker Solar Probe deliver new clues to our star's big mysteries—along with some unanticipated observations.
For billions of years, the sun has stashed its secrets in a maelstrom of energy called the solar corona. Stupefyingly hot and occasionally ultra-violent, this churning shroud of magnetized, million-degree plasma is a region that no spacecraft has dared explore—until now.
Today, four studies in the journal Nature report the first data from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, an unprecedented mission that has been able to fly ever closer to the sun, three times so far, and taste its coronal breath. Already, these close encounters are solving some solar mysteries, and they’re revealing a treasure trove of unexpected findings.
“It’s doing things no spacecraft has ever done before,” says Sarah Gibson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “I just