Introduction

A number of ancient cultures built stone structures or modified natural rock formations to mark the motions of the Sun. They charted the seasons, created calendars, and monitored solar and lunar eclipses.

Modern heliophysics is the study of the Sun and how it affects the space around us. This includes the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system, as well as the conditions in space that future explorers will experience. For more information, visit Heliophysics at the NASA Science Mission Directorate.Significant Events

Notable Explorers

Missions

Missions

The Sun is under constant supervision from a fleet of spacecraft, including NASA's newest mission – the Parker Solar Probe. The spacecraft launched on Aug. 12, 2018. It will get as close as 3.8 million miles from our star’s surface ​– more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Other missions include the international Solar and Heliophysics Observatory (SOHO), and NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). You can read more about missions to explore the Sun – past, present, and future – on the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics missions page.

Careers

10 Careers That Explore Space

1

Astronaut

Astronauts pave the way for human exploration beyond our Earth. They are pilots, scientists, engineers, teachers, and more.

2

Project Manager

Project managers guide missions from concept to completion, working closely with team members to accomplish what they set out to do.  

3

Rover Camera Operator

A camera payload uplink lead writes software commands that tell a rover what pictures to take.

The first thing that fired my imagination for planetary science was when the NASA Voyager spacecraft discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.

4

Artist

Melding science with design, artists create everything from large-scale installations to the NASA posters hanging in your bedroom. 

5

Media Specialist

Media specialists tells stories across social media and help feature missions and people on TV and in films, books, magazines, and news sites. 

6

Writer/Producer

Writers/producers capture the incredible stories of NASA's missions and people and share them with the world. 

7

Administrator/Director

Administrators and directors work out of NASA headquarters, prioritizing science questions and seeking to expand the frontiers of discovery.

8

Educator

Whether it's introducing kids to space or teaching physics to PhD candidates, educators help share their knowledge with the public.

9

Engineer

Engineers design and build all types of machines, from what a spacecraft looks like to the software that directs where a rover goes each day. 

10

Scientist

From an astrophysicist to a volcanologist, scientists of all types pose questions and help find answers to the mysteries of our universe.

The important thing about being a scientist or an engineer is learning how to think critically, learning how to be creative, learning problem solving and learning how to learn.

Explore in 3D

Eyes on the Solar System Ad

Explore in 3D—Eyes on the Solar System

Eyes on the Solar System lets you explore the planets, their moons, asteroids, comets and the spacecraft exploring them from 1950 to 2050. Ride with the Curiosity Rover as it lands on Mars or fly by Pluto with the New Horizons spacecraft all from the comfort of your home computer.

Eyes on the Solar System ›

Sun News