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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 10th August 2018 > A Place on the Sun

A Place on the Sun

After 60 years of exploration, NASA is finally sending a spaceship to the star at the center of our solar system

SPACE

@astrogingersnap

Will fly closer than any probe to date.
JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY

When a campfire is too hot, take a step back. This advice is brought to you by common sense and basic physics. But here’s a mystery: Why isn’t this true for the sun, whose surface is actually cooler than its fiery atmosphere?

Eugene Parker was puzzling over this and other mysteries when he got his big eureka moment: The sun, he realized, emits a steady stream of hot particles that causes the northern lights and occasionally fries power grids and communications satellites. This “solar wind”, as Parker called it, didn’t exactly explain the campfire conundrum, but it earned the 30-year-old grad student a Ph.D. and a reputation as one of the foremost astronomers of all time.

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