Having journeyed outwards, now we journey inwards

We’ve been to Luna. Our robots have been to Venus and Mars. Our probes have visited all the planets in the solar system. But we haven’t been to Sol. Yet. NASA is planning a new mission, set to launch in 2015, to correct that little oversight. Solar Probe Plus will get within nine solar radii of Sol, taking direct measurements of the solar corona. These measurements will likely provide the answers to two of our biggest unknowns about Sol: how is the corona half a million degrees (Celcius) if the surface of the Sun is only 6000 degrees, and where does the solar wind get such high velocity from?

Solar Probe Plus is also going to be a “green” spaceship; it’ll be powered by solar energy (duhhh). The solar arrays actually have to be liquid-cooled, and they can’t be kept in the sunlight for extended periods of time, as the temperature at nine solar radii is 1400 degrees Celcius. Ouch. I hope the main heat shield works well.

I’d also like to take this moment to encourage the use of the names “Sol” and “Luna” instead of the much more awkward phrases “The Sun” and “The Moon” in writing and in speech. Any determinate proper noun that requires a definite article is irregular, and I think should be avoided if an alternative exists. Plus, Sun and Moon aren’t even specific; there are many moons of other planets, and the central star of each solar system (not just our own) can be referred to as its sun. Consider that the sentence “I’m traveling to Earth” sounds correct, whereas “I’m traveling to Sun” does not. So, please do English a favor and elevate your language. Someday there will actually be people living on Luna, and what do you think the odds are of them putting up with the sheer awkwardness of “The Moon” on a day-to-day basis? Slim!

I would also recommend “Terra” instead of the “The Earth”, but we see Earth used so often its dropped its definite article, and thus there’s no need to throw around another potentially unfamiliar name.

2 Responses to “Having journeyed outwards, now we journey inwards”

  1. T2A` Says:

    If you haven’t seen Sunshine, do it!

    In the general context, God means one god and Mom means one mom (yours, usually). I don’t see why calling it Sun would hurt. But it’s probably colloquial language that makes it sound incorrect.

    Oh well.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    I have seen Sunshine, and I really wasn’t impressed with it. Maybe it’s because I went into it thinking it’d be scifi rather than fantasy horror, but there were just so many happenings that weren’t adequately explained, and never mind the plot holes. I just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t empathize with the characters at all, and the sun zombie really had me asking “Why?!”.

    There haven’t been too many good scifi movies lately.