- 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.
There are places in our solar system where you can fly.
- Both the moon and Mars have a weaker surface gravity than the Earth does. The result? You don't weigh as much on either celestial body as you do here.
- On a moon called Titan that orbits Saturn, the gravity isn't as strong as Earth's, but the atmosphere is much thicker. In this world, it would be possible to strap wings to your arms and fly around.
- On a low-gravity moon called Miranda, just off the space coast of Uranus, there are cliffs that are many miles high. It would be possible to jump off a cliff here and fall very gently to the bottom.
Artistic depictions of the atom have deceived us all.
- Though artistic renderings suggest otherwise, electrons do not, in fact, move around a nucleus the same way the planets move around a star — at all.
- Electrons also are not tiny balls, they're more wavelike. Also, in regard to their location, a single electron can also be an entire sphere around the nucleus of an atom.
- As for their movement, electrons do have a spin, but they're not actually spinning. They're not actually moving around. You can think of them as clouds that exist in different locations around the nucleus based on how much energy they have.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
Dr. Michelle Thaller is an astronomer who studies binary stars and the life cycles of stars. She is Assistant Director of Science Communication at NASA. She went to college at Harvard University, completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif. then started working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Spitzer Space Telescope. After a hugely successful mission, she moved on to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), in the Washington D.C. area. In her off-hours often puts on about 30lbs of Elizabethan garb and performs intricate Renaissance dances. For more information, visit NASA.