With a probe still operating far beyond Pluto and other missions orbiting Saturn, Jupiter, Ceres, Mars, Earth and the moon, NASA has eyes across the solar system like never before.
But while more and more missions look outward, few have traveled the opposite direction—toward the sun that gives us light, heat and a stable orbit through space.
Next year, with its Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s going to change that. It will get within 4 million miles of the small star—several times closer than any previous missions. By going to the sun, rather than simply pointing a telescope in its direction, scientists hope to solve prevailing mysteries about its fiery atmosphere and its storms that can create huge problems here on Earth.