An upcoming NASA probe will fly closer to the Sun than any before it. Known as the Parker Solar Probe, this spacecraft will study the Sun and many of its qualities, including Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).
Coronal Mass Ejections take place when the Sun’s magnetic field enables charged particles to spew out of the star’s surface. These charged particles are powerful enough to knock out modern electronics, including those used in satellites and those used right here on Earth’s surface.
The last time a Coronal Mass Ejection came Earth’s way was in the 1850’s, and NASA says we’re due for another one. In fact, NASA estimates that there’s a 12% chance we could be hit with one in the next decade.
By putting the Parker Solar Probe in its place, NASA hopes to learn about some of the warning signs involving these Coronal Mass Ejections such that we can protect ourselves and our valuable electronics from becoming toast.