NASA and ESA are in a quest to get closest to the sun

The universe is vast, and it never ceased to surprise us with what it has to offer. From billions of distant stars to many planets, space is filled with all kinds of fascinating processes. At one point of a time, we debated whether the earth is flat or round to this period where with improved technology and other instruments we have travelled deep into the space to look for things on our own.  Now that we see farther as well as clearer we are still lacking the technology to move closer to the stars especially the Sun.

The quest seems to be on the solving side as NASA and the ESA are in process of developing missions which will bestow on us the ability to explore sun closely like never before. The Parker Solar probe of NASA and Solar Orbiter by the ESA are aimed to go a step further than what was conquered before. This might resolve our decades-old curiosity about inner workings of the Majestic Sun. these missions are working on a timeline and will witness a launch in 2018 and 2020 respectively. The finding is expected to have major implications on earth as the sun is the primary source of energy and we are extremely dependent on it. Sun also poses serious hazards to things that we have become dependent on which includes radio communications, power grids, satellites.

Both of these missions are driven by a common goal of understanding the processes inside the sun. The improvement in understanding will eventually help us to understand the processes that are going to drive the solar flares so that we will be able to predict how they will occur and what is going to be the impact of the process. Both of the missions will be focusing on the outer atmosphere of the sun also known as the Corona.  Much of the Sun’s behaviour continues to stay mysterious including the coronal heating problems and the driving force behind the outpouring of the solar material.

The Parker Solar Probe will get closer to the sun than any other spacecraft from the history and will be six million kilometres away from the surface. As compared to the previous record of 43.432 million kilometres set by the Helios B probe back in 1976. Parker solar probe will be using its instrument to image solar wind as well as study the magnetic field, energetic particles as well as the plasma. This might help reveal the true anatomy of the sun. The solar orbiter will be closer to a distance of 42 million kilometres and will be providing direct images of the poles of the sun. Solar Orbiter will help determine what drives the activities of the sun including the eruptions.

Ref:

  1. https://www.universetoday.com/139290/two-spacecraft-will-get-closer-to-the-sun-than-ever-before/