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UM scientist is helping NASA “touch the sun”

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NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched on Sunday, Aug. 12.

It's the stuff of science fiction: send a space mission to the sun.

But science fiction became reality this week when NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, humanity's first-ever mission into the corona, part of the sun’s atmosphere.

University of Michigan professor Justin Kasper, a principal investigator for this mission, joined Stateside to explain what he and his team hope to learn about our star, and about phenomena here on Earth.

Credit Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Justin Kasper, a principal investigator for the Parker Solar Probe.

“Controlled fusion is potentially like the way in the future for the ultimate clean energy source,” he said. “And what we struggle with is how do you get the plasma in a fusion reactor really hot, and how do you confine it.... My hope is one day we’ll take what we learn with the probe and maybe we can apply that to things like fusion power.”

Listen above for the full conversation. You’ll hear how this mission could help scientists predict when a hunk of the corona might be “hurled” our way, or when a gust of solar wind might hit us. You’ll also learn what it took to put this mission together.

Click here for more information about the Parker Solar Probe.

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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