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The closest ever approach to the sun has shown us the origin of solar wind
The first major results from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe are in, a little over a year after the spacecraft set the record for the closest approach to the sun by an artificial object. 

Parker’s big year: Launched in August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe was built to study the sun and make the sharpest observations of the corona (the wreath of ultra-hot plasma that surrounds it). In October 2018, the probe came within 26.55 million miles (42.3 million kilometers) of the sun, surpassing the record set by the Helios 2 spacecraft in 1976.

The mission’s first results: The findings from that 2018 approach suggest that solar wind and the sun’s magnetic field both originate from cool holes in the corona, where temperatures are 1.1 million °C (2 million °F).

Why it matters: Solar wind could severely damage Earth’s electrical grids or other telecommunications equipment. Scientists hope that by learning more about the origin and behavior of solar wind, we can develop early warning systems for solar storms and figure out better strategies to guard against them. Read the full story.


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