Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter team up to tackle 65-year-old sun mystery


A new groundbreaking measurement made by the Solar Orbiter spacecraft and the Parker Solar probe brings scientists closer than ever to solving a longstanding mystery surrounding the sun. Oddly enough, our host star’s atmosphere, or corona, is staggeringly hotter than the solar surface despite being further away from the obvious source of the sun’s heat — and this is a puzzle that has troubled physicists for about 65 years. 

The collaboration between these two instruments was made possible when the Solar Orbiter, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) performed some space-based gymnastics. These maneuvers allowed the spacecraft to observe the sun and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe at the same time. Ultimately, that allowed for simultaneous solar observations between the two, which together indicated that turbulence is likely heating the solar corona to incredible temperatures.