NASA is about to shed some light on the sun. The space agency plans to launch the unmanned Parker Solar Probe next summer on a three-month, 90 million-mile journey to within 4 million miles of the sun—closer than any other man-made object. It will be equipped with a high-tech heat shield so its instruments can operate in temperatures of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists hope to gain new insights into the sun, especially the cause of solar storms—eruptions that send charged particles streaming through space. Solar storms can disable communications satellites and shut down electrical grids on Earth. A major storm—the last one occurred in 1859—could black out entire regions and cause trillions in damage. Scientists hope to learn to predict such storms so we can prepare in advance. “The probability of a major storm in the next 100 years is high,” says astronomer Edward Guinan of Villanova University, “and the financial damage would be very costly.”