NASA is out to decode the mysterious Sun

29 Jun


Thursday night NASA turned their attention to one of the biggest and mysterious bodies in our solar system. At 6:30 p.m. PT (9:30 p.m. ET) a plane took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying a Pegasus XL rocket. That rocket was released from the plane, at 39,000 feet, to carry out its mission of placing NASA’s IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) Satellite into orbit to observe and figure out the mysterious yellow orb we call the Sun.

“We are thrilled to add IRIS to the suite of NASA missions studying the sun,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “IRIS will help scientists understand the mysterious and energetic interface between the surface and corona of the sun.”

Throughout human history the Sun has been looked upon in awe. Religions have been built around it, astrologers have studied it and it even played a big part in a novel when Mark Twain wrote about an eclipse in his novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court”. That awe continues in modern day as we all look up at the Sun wonder about just why it makes so much of of an impact on our everyday lives. Hopefully IRIS will finally give us some of the answers and make that big star a little less mystical to us.

“What causes this rise? How does the energy transfer from the surface, the cool surface, to this hot outer atmosphere?” Jeffrey Newmark, IRIS program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said Tuesday during a pre-launch briefing. “These are the questions that IRIS, the science of IRIS, is going to address.”

It is inevitable that no matter how much NASA learns from there will always be more questions then answers.



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