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Exploring Our Sun Will Help Us Understand Habitability

20 Feb 2020, 15:01 UTC
Exploring Our Sun Will Help Us Understand Habitability
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The surface of the sun, with each “kernel” or “cell” roughly the size of Texas. The movie is made up of images produced by the Inouye SolarTelescope in Hawaii. Novel and even revolutionary images and data are also expected from the Parker Solar Probe (which will travel into the sun’s atmosphere, or corona) and the just launched Solar Orbiter, which will study (among many other things) the sun’s polar regions. (NSO/NSF/AURA)

Scientists have been studying our sun for centuries, and at this point know an awful lot about it — the millions of degrees Fahrenheit heat that it radiates out from the corona, the tangled and essential magnetic fields that it creates, the million-miles-per-hour solar wind and the charged high-energy solar particles that can be so damaging to anything alive.
But we have now entered a time when solar science is taking a major leap forward with the deployment of three pioneering instruments that will explore the sun and its surroundings as never before. One is a space telescopes that will get closer to the sun (by far) than any probe before, another is a probe that will make the first observations of the sun’s poles, and the ...

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