The surface of the Sun is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but its outer atmosphere—the corona—soars to some 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit. Its blistering heat is why no probe has been able to go anywhere it.
But in the middle of next year, NASA will send one to reconnaissance our nearest star. The Parker Solar Probe will get within four million miles of the star with the gravitational assist of seven Venus flybys and make 24 orbits of the star.
The mission is made possible by a shield constructed from a carbon-carbon composite, which will keep the probe’s instruments safe in the 70-degree range.
New York-based architecture firm, Clouds Architecture Office, has proposed a blueprint for a skyscraper that would win it a round of applause from Kim Stanley Robinson.
The slim, but colossal tower would be built not up from the ground, but down from the sky, by suspending it (by cables) from an asteroid, orbiting Earth. Which means, it too, would whirl along with it. In its daily loop across the heavens, swinging like a pendulum, it’d trace a figure of eight.
Offices would be placed at the lower end of it and residences, between 25,000 and 35,000 feet—the altitude at which jets commercial fly. Places of worship and funerary would be spread along the uppermost section, soaring into space.
The size and shape of the windows along it would change with height to accommodate the differences in pressure and temperature.
Residents would parachute down to the ground when they’d need to.
In the last week of February, NASA announced the discovery of a spectacular “sister solar system,” a mere 39 light-years away, boasting not one, but seven Earth-size planets, all of which huddle around their ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, much like a family around a campfire.
They appear to be rocky; have surface temperatures ranging between a life-friendly 32 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit; and even host liquid water.
Nature describes the star system as a “compact analog of the inner solar system.” It’s so compact, in fact, that if you were standing on the surface of one of these planets, the neighboring planets would sometimes appear even larger than our Moon does to in our own sky.
The closest planet only takes 1.5 days to orbit the parent star; the sixth planet, 13 days. Compare that to our own solar system, where the closest planet, Mercury, takes 88 days to orbit the Sun and Neptune, the farthest planet, takes 165 years.