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'He Makes His Sun Rise on the Evil and the Good': NASA and ESA Launch Latest Mission to Study the Sun

This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Solar Orbiter satellite in front of the Sun. (Image credit: (ESA/ATG medialab, NASA/SDO/P. Testa (CfA) via AP)

ABOVE: NASA scientist Dr. Holly Gilbert appeared on Monday afternoon's edition of CBN's Newswatch to help us understand how the sun affects our lives here on earth. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.  For a programming schedule, click here.  


NASA and the European Space Agency launched a new mission to the center of our solar system -- the Sun -- Sunday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The joint mission will produce high-resolution photos of areas of the sun never seen before. It will provide the first pictures of the sun's poles, and NASA scientists tell CBN News it will help us to understand how the Sun affects our lives here on Earth and better forecast space weather.

"The sun's magnetic field drives all that activity and really creates the different cycles. Every 11 years the sun gets more and more active and then it gets less active. So, a lot of sunspots, a lot of solar storms. In order for us to understand and model this stuff, we need to see the entire sun," Dr. Holly Gilbert said. 

The solar orbiter will come within 26 million miles of the Sun – inside the orbit of Mercury – at its closest approach.

While Solar Orbiter won't venture close enough to penetrate the sun's corona, or crown-like outer atmosphere, like Parker, it will maneuver into a unique out-of-plane orbit that will take it over both poles, never photographed before. Together with powerful ground observatories, the sun-staring space duo will be like an orchestra, according to Gunther Hasinger, the European Space Agency's science director.

"Every instrument plays a different tune, but together they play the symphony of the sun," Hasinger said.

Full science operations will begin in late 2021, with the first close solar encounter in 2022 and more every six months.

The scientists' endeavor will help them predict space weather, which can disrupt communications on earth.  Plus, their observations on the star in our solar system will help shed light on other stars near us. 

More than a dozen spacecraft have been launched to study the Sun over the past 30 years. Technology advances have allowed the latest spacecraft to get even closer. 

In an interview on Monday's edition of CBN's Newswatch, Gilbert said this mission will help scientists understanding the cycles of the sun.

"The sun's magnetic field drives all of that activity and really creates the different cycles," Gilbert said. "Every 11 years the sun gets more and more active and then it gets less active. So there are a lot of sunspots, a lot of solar storms. In order for us to be able to forecast and understand and model this stuff, we need to see the entire sun. So the Solar Orbiter will provide the entire image of the sun, giving us that information that we can use to then form our models and then forecast space weather."

Follow the Solar Orbiter's mission

There are more than 100 verses mentioning the sun in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  From the Sun's creation in the book of Genesis, "And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars," in Gen. 1:16 to its ultimate end in Acts 2: 20 when Jesus returns: "The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day."

Even though the Beatles released their song "Here Comes The Sun" in 1969, the book of Ecclesiastes has reminded readers about the Sun millennia before that.

"Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 11:7

The book of Psalms praises the sun as a work of God. 

 "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." --Psalm 19:1-6

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!"-- Psalm 113:3

The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth also wrote about the sun.

"There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory." -- 1 Corinthians 15:41 

He also reminded Christians there who exactly was the "light."

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." -- 2 Corinthians 4:6 

In Matthew 5:45, Jesus tells the multitude that God caused "the sun to rise on the evil and on the good."

"So that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous," -- Matthew 5:45. 

In John 8, Jesus also reminds his disciples that he is the light of the world.  

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." -- John 8:12

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