Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe in front of the Sun. Photo: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

A new series of studies based on data beamed back from the Sun-studying Parker Solar Probe could help scientists better predict dangerous space weather.

Why it matters: Streams of charged particles sent out by the Sun create space weather that can affect satellites, electrical grids on Earth and even people in orbit.

  • By learning more about how space weather works, scientists could craft better predictions and keep assets in space and on Earth safer.

Details: A new study published last week as part of a Parker Solar Probe-focused package in the journal Nature is shedding light on why the Sun's atmosphere gets hotter as you move farther from the star's surface.

  • The probe found that strong magnetic waves — called Alfvén waves — in the solar wind near the Sun could help explain that heating.
  • "They [the waves] were organized into these individual, really powerful waves that would wash over the spacecraft," one of the study's authors Justin Kasper, of the University of Michigan, told Axios.
  • While these types of waves have been seen in the solar wind before, finding them organized in such a way was surprising and could help unravel the mystery of the Sun's hot atmosphere with more data.

What's next: The Parker Solar Probe is expected to make 21 more close flybys of the Sun, three of which will bring it just 3.83 million miles from the star's surface, closer than any spacecraft has been before.

  • Mission managers are also gearing up for the probe to make a flyby of Venus this month, giving researchers a new look at the cloud-covered world from relatively close range.
  • Scientists will use the data already gathered by the probe to add more information into models that explain how the solar wind and stellar atmosphere work.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 34,026,003 — Total deaths: 1,015,107 — Total recoveries: 23,680,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 7,237,043 — Total deaths: 207,008 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Health: New poll shows alarming coronavirus vaccine skepticism — New research centers will study "long-haul" COVID — Coronavirus infections rise in 25 states.
  4. Business: Remdesivir is good business for Gilead.
  5. Transportation: The politics of pandemic driving.
  6. 🎧Podcast: The looming second wave of airline layoffs.
2 hours ago - Technology

Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech CEOs

Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool via Getty Images

The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to authorize subpoenas compelling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify before the panel.

Why it matters: The tech giants are yet again facing a potential grilling on Capitol Hill sometime before the end of the year, at a time when tech is being used as a punching bag from both the left and right.

Trump administration cuts refugee cap to new record low

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration plans to only admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees this fiscal year, the State Department said in a release late Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: This is yet another record-low refugee cap. Before leaving office, President Obama set the refugee limit at 110,000 for fiscal year 2017 — a number Trump has continued to slash throughout his presidency.