Solar Research

The most reliable and biggest light source humankind has ever experienced is our sun but do we really know how large the sun and its corona really is? Scientist have calculated the sun’s diameter at 864,938 (1.392 million kilometers) but that is less than 20 percent of the sun’s corona which based on recent evidence extends nearly 5 million miles above the sun’s surface.

Magnetosonic Waves

Using magnetosonic waves scientist from NASA are able to measure the thickness of the sun’s corona by analyzing the ripple effect the waves make as they pass through the sun’s atmosphere. Magnetosonic waves are a cross between sound waves and magnetic waves, which originate from solar storms and other disturbances. Monitoring the audio effects of the magnetosonic waves scientist calculated the corona’s thickness at 5 million miles. After this distance the plasma dissipates and becomes the solar wind, which is responsible for our polar auroras and extends well beyond the outer planets of our solar system as part of the heliosphere.

Solar Probe Mission

In 2018 NASA will launch the Solar Probe Mission to further study the sun. NASA plans on orbiting a satellite within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface, which places it well within the corona. According to Marco Velli, a Solar Probe Plus scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory “The mission will directly measure the density, velocity and magnetic field of the solar material there, allowing us to understand how motion and heat in the corona and solar wind are generated.”

Will the data streamed to earth by the probe advance research into the development of new solar technologies that power as assortment of devices as well as advance space travel, only time will tell.

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