Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory via AP

A NASA spacecraft will aim straight for the sun next year and bear the name of the astrophysicist who predicted the existence of the solar wind nearly 60 years ago.

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The space agency announced Wednesday that the red-hot mission would be named after Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. It's the first NASA spacecraft to be named after a researcher who is still alive, noted the agency's science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen.

Astronaut Mark Kelly Shares His New Mission With Atlanta

Mar 15, 2017
John Raoux / Associated Press

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly was in Atlanta Tuesday night as part of a new mission. The goal: Get younger generations excited about space.

Kelly gave a talk at the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Emory Village to kick off the Atlanta Science Festival. He was met by a sea of fans, most of them children.

Austin Valencia, 6, said he was nervous to meet Kelly.

"It's just because I never met an astronaut before and this is, like, my first time doing this,” Austin said.

Romeo Durscher / NASA

On the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2017, a little after 2:30, the sky will get dark, the temperature will drop and the stars will come out. Wild animals might be heading to sleep, and flowers will close their petals.  

“A total solar eclipse, I would say, is widely regarded as probably one of the most breathtaking, amazing phenomenon that you can observe from this planet Earth with your own eyes,” said Lika Guhathakurta, a heliophysicist at NASA.

Smoke rises from a SpaceX launch site Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA said SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when a blast occurred.
Marcia Dunn / AP Photo

This story was updated at 12:37 a.m.

A massive explosion erupted at a SpaceX launch pad Thursday during a routine rocket test for a planned launch of a communications satellite.

There were no injuries, but the rocket and the satellite onboard were destroyed, SpaceX said in a statement.

Courtesy of Rob Felt/Georgia Tech

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. In 1958, the United States followed with Explorer 1.

Today, there are more than 1,000 of these large satellites revolving around the Earth sending radio signals back to us, which get converted into pictures of the oceans, weather forecasts and even DISH TV.

Many of these satellites are the size of a 7,000-pound hippo and can take decades to design and build.