A new probe built by NASA and the European Space Agency set off on a blazing hot journey to the sun on Sunday to take the first close-up look at the star's polar regions, a mission expected to yield insight into how solar radiant energy affects Earth.
The Solar Orbiter spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:03 p.m.
ET (0403 GMT Monday), kicking off a 10-year voyage.
The minivan-sized spacecraft will eventually reach as close as 26 million miles from the sun's surface, or about 72% of the distance between the star and Earth.
Its primary mission of examining the sun's polar regions will help researchers understand the origins of solar wind, a soup of charged particles highly concentrated at the two poles, which blast through our solar system, affecting satellites and electronics on Earth.
The mission is also expected to glean insight into how astronauts can be protected from radiation in space, which can damage DNA.