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Solaris: To the Sun’s High Latitudes

8 Sep 2020, 12:27 UTC
Solaris: To the Sun’s High Latitudes
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I can think of more than one way to get a good look at the Sun’s polar regions. After all, we’ve done it before, through the Ulysses spacecraft, which passed over the Sun’s north and south poles in 1994-1995. A gravity assist at Jupiter was the key to the mission, allowing Ulysses to arc out of the ecliptic and inward to the Sun. But Ulysses lacked the kind of remote-sensing instruments we’d like to use to compile an extensive dataset on the polar magnetic field and, as Don Hassler (SwRI) adds, “the surface/sub-surface flows” we might find in the polar regions. It’s good to see a mission designed for that purpose.
For Hassler is principal investigator on a concept that has just been approved for further study by NASA, with the haunting name Solaris. I say ‘haunting’ because it’s hard for this Stanislaw Lem reader to forget the novel of the same name, published in 1961, that explores the implications of a vast intelligence on a planet far from Earth. I realize this has been done as a film more than once and I’ve seen the films, but I leave their analysis to Centauri Dreams film critic Larry Klaes, who ...

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