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This has been a huge year for unmanned space flight.

Voyager 2 has left the solar system for interstellar space, the InSight probe is busy on the surface of Mars, and the Parker Solar mission is studying the sun.

Dr. Gary Zank from UAH is involved in the solar mission, and he says it’s not just something we wanted to do, it was a science mission we needed to do.

“The reason we’re trying to understand this is everything in the solar system, including our Earth geospace environment, is affected by how the sun behaves. And yet for 50, 60, 70 years we’ve had no idea of how the sun actually emits this enormous high-speed wind. And that affects our atmosphere, our magnetosphere, it affects the magnetospheres of other planets. It affects the interstellar medium, it’s related to, in fact, to the Voyager 2 crossing of the heliopause, the boundary between the solar wind the heliosphere and the interstellar medium. So trying to unravel this 50-year-old mystery is one of the things Parker Solar probe will try to do.”

You can watch our entire Leadership Perspectives interview with Doctor Gary Zank below.