Introduction: Solar Odyssey (02:49)
Solar flares can release energy equivalent to millions of atomic bombs in a matter of minutes, and they can be devastating to our technology. Two space probes were created to investigate this phenomenon.
Heart of the Solar System (02:17)
NASA and the European Space Agency pooled resources to study the Sun. Astrophysicist Eugene Parker's dream was about to come true with the launch of the European Solar Orbiter mission and the American Parker Solo Probe.
Space Race (03:17)
The Space Age began with Russia's launch of Sputnik I. President Dwight Eisenhower created NASA to oversee the U.S. space program. Sending a probe to the Sun was among its first priority missions.
Complimentary Solar Missions (05:14)
The Parker Solar Probe's target was a critical zone that extended 4 million miles from the Sun’s surface. NASA developed a twofold launch strategy using its Delta IV Heavy rocket. The European Solar Orbiter will take images from 26 million miles away.
Extreme Heat Resistance (08:27)
In the 1960s, designing heat shields is the main obstacle for engineers. Shields made of titanium, carbon fiber, and solar black will deflect heat from the Solar Orbiter's instruments. The American probe must withstand temperatures of 2 million degrees.
Solar Surface (05:12)
The Observatory of Meudon houses the world's longest-standing collection of photographs of the Sun; Galileo Galilei studied sunspots. Solar Orbiter will capture solar flares and previously unseen phenomena.
Solar Flares (04:38)
In Orsay, France, Frederic Auchere's team works on one of the Solar Orbiter's cameras. The Solar Heliospheric Observatory, launched in 1996, still captures solar images that cannot be seen from Earth.
Solar Wind (05:20)
Studying the Sun will help astronomers better understand other stars. One of the main priorities of the probes is analyzing expelled matter; it can decimate the atmosphere of a planet.
Carrington Event (07:40)
When the Sun's magnetic field becomes unstable, it creates solar storms that can wreak havoc with technology. A solar event on Sept. 1, 1859 demonstrated the potential for global catastrophe. A medium intensity storm caused a blackout in Quebec in 1989.
Superheated Atmosphere (07:09)
The Sun's corona extends 4 million miles from its surface and reaches 2 million degrees. Studying the Sun will help protect Earth's technology and astronauts exploring our solar system. The Parker Solar Probe launches in 2018 followed by the Solar Orbiter in February 2020.
Credits: Solar Odyssey (00:10)
Credits: Solar Odyssey
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