Is there any more natural power in the human psyche than the sun? For practical and spiritual, pragmatic and social purposes, people have been gathering around the sun for millennia. And yet it could be one of the most misunderstood parts of our solar system.
As much as we know about the sun, the amount we still do not know after 1945 can surprise us. According to NASA, scientists still do not know how the sun's magnetic field is generated.
And that's a big deal. The sun could be almost 100 million miles from Earth, but its magnetic field has a shocking effect on life on our planet. Literally.
To broaden our understanding of the sun, NASA recently announced two upcoming missions that could teach us more about this great hot plasma ball.
The Space Agency will work with the European Space Agency (ESA) to bring the Parker Solar Probe and the Solar Orbiter closer to the star than ever before.
"Our goal is to understand how the sun works and how it affects the space environment to predictability," said Chris St. Cyr of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is really a curiosity-oriented science."
The Mission Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for this summer and the Solar Orbiter will launch in 2020. The Parker will get as far as 3.8 million miles from the Sun surface, where it will map solar winds and examine magnetic fields as well as plasmatic and energetic particles. The Orbiter will play a bit more conservative with a 26 million miles approach as he takes the first photos of the Sun's poles.
"Probe and Solar Orbiter use different types of technology, but – as missions" they will be complementary, "said NASA Goddard researcher Eric Christian in a statement.
" They will be images at the same time the solar corona, and they will see some of the same structures – what happens at the poles of the Sun and what these structures look like at the equator.
It is one of the secrets that they hope the upcoming missions (no pun intended) will bring some light into the round.
"There are questions that have been bothering us for a long time," said Parker Solar trial-mission scientist Adam Szabo in a statement.
"We try to decipher what is happening near the sun, and the obvious solution is to just go there, we can not wait – not just me, but the whole community."