Solar Wonders: NASA’s Solar Missions

Shubham Kumar
3 min readOct 27, 2023

The Sun, that blazing ball of gas at the center of our solar system, has long attracted our curiosity. It is not only the source of life on Earth but also a dynamic celestial entity that holds many secrets. To unlock some of those mysteries, NASA, the United States’ space agency, has undertaken a series of groundbreaking solar missions. These missions are providing us with unprecedented insights into our nearest star, the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe. Image Source : https://science.nasa.gov/mission/parker-solar-probe/

The Parker Solar Probe:

One of the most recent and notable missions is the Parker Solar Probe, named after Dr. Eugene Parker, who theorized the existence of the solar wind in the 1950s. Launched in August 2018, this spacecraft is on a daring journey closer to the Sun than any human-made object has ever ventured. The Parker Solar Probe’s mission is to study the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, and understand why it is so much hotter than the Sun’s surface. This spacecraft will help us gain a better understanding of space weather, solar flares, and their potential impacts on Earth.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Image Source : https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/SOHO_overview2

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):

SOHO, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has been monitoring the Sun continuously since 1995. It studies the Sun’s internal structure, its outer atmosphere, and the solar wind, providing crucial data for space weather forecasting. SOHO has been instrumental in understanding solar activity, sunspots, and solar flares.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory. Image Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Dynamics_Observatory

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO):

Launched in 2010, the SDO provides high-definition images and data of the Sun’s surface and its dynamic behavior. It captures images in various wavelengths, allowing scientists to study different aspects of the Sun’s atmosphere. The SDO has significantly advanced our knowledge of solar phenomena and helps us predict space weather events that can affect Earth.

Upcoming Missions:

NASA is not stopping here. There are several exciting solar missions in the pipeline, such as the Solar Orbiter and the James Webb Space Telescope. These missions will provide more data and help unravel the mysteries of the Sun’s activity and its influence on our solar system.

NASA’s solar missions have been vital in our quest to understand the Sun’s behavior and its impact on our solar system. These missions are shedding light on the Sun’s complex nature, helping us predict space weather, and inspiring us with breathtaking images of our nearest star. The knowledge gained from these missions not only advances our scientific understanding but also plays a critical role in safeguarding our technology and infrastructure from the Sun’s occasional outbursts. As we look to the future, we can anticipate even more thrilling discoveries and insights into the Sun’s mysteries thanks to NASA’s continued commitment to solar exploration.

If you want to read more about some solar mysteries, checkout the article- Solar Wonders: Exploring the Sun’s Mysteries or read about some interesting facts about the sun, checkout the article- Solar Wonders: Exploring the Sun’s Marvels

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