(Photo: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

Ah, the sun. What is it? Is there beer on it? Should we blow it up? These are the sorts of questions pop culture has asked for decades, and now, NASA is finally ready to deliver some answers. The space agency announced today that an upcoming mission will launch the unmanned—phew!—Parker Space Probe toward the Big Yellow Ball, entering the massive solar corona that surrounds its inner core.

The probe will pass close to the sun at a distance seven times closer than anything we’ve ever done before, allowing its onboard sensors to learn more about how the life-giving celestial body releases radiation. (And, thus, occasionally disrupts our satellites, power supplies, and equally life-giving cellphone coverage.) The probe will use the gravity of Venus to slow itself down to safe measuring speeds, because science is actually pretty cool.

The PSP is set to launch some time next year, in either August or July. Besides its scientific sensors, the probe will also be equipped with cameras, the better for NASA to post dazzling pictures to its Twitter account, a.k.a. the only thing that can get people to actually sit up and care about space exploration in 2017.

[via The Telegraph]