• The Parker Solar Probe is set to uncover a mystery about the sun: Why is it's corona hotter than its surface?
  • NASA's ability to fly a probe so close to the sun is a marvel of engineering.
  • Michelle Thaller, an astronomer at NASA, explains why the Parker Solar Probe is so hot right now.

Where do all the elements come from?

It's often said that every element was made in a star, but there's more to it than that.

  • Where does the aluminum foil in your kitchen come from? It's mined from the earth, of course, but before how did it get there?
  • All of the elements in the universe have very disparate sources and were produced under very different conditions. The Big Bang, for instance, made hydrogen, helium, and lithium; where did the other elements come from?
  • Scientists know enough to say with some certainty what percentage of a given element came from, say, colliding neutron stars, supernovae from massive stars, or cosmic rays.
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Surprising Science

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
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Strange Maps

5 holidays to celebrate this year that aren’t Christmas

Going mad with Christmas cheer? Try one of these alternatives.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
  • Christmas is an all consuming holiday, celebrated even in cultures where Christianity never took root.
  • However, some people just can't take it anymore. Some of them even invented new holidays as alternatives.
  • While some of the holidays are celebrated half jokingly, they all offer an escape from an often overbearing Christmas season.
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Culture & Religion

Behold, the closest-ever photo of a coronal streamer

It was captured by the Parker Solar Probe, which is currently studying the star.

  • NASA's Parker Solar Probe is currently traveling closer to the sun than any other spacecraft before it.
  • The probe is recording data on the star to help scientists learn more about the star and its volatile nature.
  • Also this week, NASA released the first images of its Mars InSight lander taken from space.
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Surprising Science