Nat Geo’s Mission to the Sun is a fascinating look at the Parker Solar Probe’s pioneering journey

Our solar system is a place of incredible marvels with a single star, the Sun, and the celestial bodies that orbit around it providing endless fascination.

It comprises everything from planets, moons and asteroids to zooming comets. But what do we know about this active and explosive solar system we inhabit?

Our earthly insignificance and conversely our unique life-sustaining importance in the scheme of the larger cosmos — made of billions of other solar systems — is writ large with a new special from National Geographic Channel.

Our sun is dynamic and racked with giant explosions and incredible amounts of radiation. It keeps us earthlings alive and allows us to flourish. But we are at its mercy too.

What do we know about the sun and how its changing surface and solar flares can impact our lives now and in the future?

In short, disruptive solar storms can literally wipe us out from cataclysmic changes in our climate. It can also devastate our communications and the electrical grid.

Mission to the Sun airs tonight on National Geographic Channel ahead of the second season of the series Mars, and journals the amazing science of our sun and behind-the-scenes work that it took to send an exploratory probe into it.

You will hear from the exclusive team of NASA scientists who have made this skillfully-planned endeavor a reality.

A mission sixty years in the making, National Geographic Channel is bringing the historic Parker Solar Probe journey to TV tonight.

Project Scientist Dr. Nicky Fox of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab is the lead in the Parker Solar Probe project.

Dr. Nicky Fox is in charge of this ambitious project. Pic credit: Nat Geo Channel
Dr. Nicky Fox is in charge of this ambitious project. Pic credit: Nat Geo Channel

This is mankind’s first mission into a part of the sun’s atmosphere called the corona. The purpose is to explore solar activity key to understanding and forecasting space weather events which impact life on Earth.

New data discovers the real dangers of solar flares, spots, and other solar disturbances. Losing GPS, the internet, power grids? All entirely possible if a solar storm erupts.

Over 19 million miles from Earth, a tiny craft is sent to crash into the sun. Once deemed mission impossible, the probe’s mission is to solve the mysteries of the star at the center of our solar system.

Dr. Fox describes the mission, based out of Cape Canaveral, as “like discovering a new continent.”

Will the probe survive the awesome power of the sun? Pic credit: Nat Geo Channel
Will the probe provide new information about the awesome power of the sun? Pic credit: Nat Geo Channel

In the Nat Geo special, Dr. Fox says: “We’ve sent spacecraft to all of the major regions of our solar system, but we’ve never gone into the center of the solar system. It is uncharted territory…so there’s a lot of pressure to be perfect for that five, four, three, two, one lift-off moment.”

Watch tonight as we follow NASA’s preparation for the launch of the Parker Solar Probe, weighing in at 1500 pounds, and a historic quest that will span 19 million miles to explore the last great frontier of our solar system – the sun.

Mission to the Sun premieres on Monday, November 19 at 8/7c and will feature new NASA footage, as well as interviews and animations to further capture this groundbreaking mission. It leads into a brand-new episode at 9/8c of National Geographic’s groundbreaking series Mars.

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