August 10, 2018

Saturday marks the day we finally send a spacecraft to the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe, named for the scientist who first theorized about the existence of solar winds, is expected to get as close as we've ever been to our local star. The goal is to collect data and images on the sun's atmosphere, called the "corona," Engadget reports.

Though the mission has affectionately been dubbed as one to "touch the sun," the probe won't quite go that far, Fox News explained. In reality, it will aim to eventually reach about 3.8 million miles away, well within the sun's atmosphere. While we don't have technology that would survive the sun's surface heat of 2 to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit, the Parker probe has heat shields that will protect it from the temperatures it will face, about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. (Icarus, take note.)

NASA will use the data collected by the Parker probe in order to better prepare us for solar winds, which present problems for satellites and even our power grids here on Earth, Engadget explained. But these findings are going to take a long time — first, the Parker probe will have to orbit around the sun, getting closer and closer, for as many as seven years. By that time, it will be traveling at around 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object ever.

The Parker Solar Probe is expected to launch early Saturday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch window opens at 3:33 a.m. ET. You can watch it live on NASA TV, or read more about this historic launch at Engadget. Shivani Ishwar

10:01 p.m.

British lawmakers voted on Monday night to take control of the parliamentary timetable, giving them the opportunity to vote on alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

The amendment, put forward by a member of May's Conservative Party, passed 329 to 302, and three ministers resigned from the government in order to support it. Alternatives to May's plan including leaving the European Union without a deal, extending the country's departure, and revoking Article 50 to remain in the EU, and Parliament will vote on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Department of Exiting the European Union told Reuters the government will "continue to call for realism — any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU."

The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the bloc on March 29; last week, the EU agreed to postpone Brexit until May 22 if British lawmakers agree to May's withdrawal deal, which has already been rejected twice. Otherwise, the EU will extend the delay to April 12. Earlier Monday, May, who promised a clean break with the EU, said she did not have enough support to hold a third vote. For her deal to pass, at least 75 members of Parliament who voted against her on March 12 must join her side. Catherine Garcia

8:53 p.m.

Rafi Eitan, the Israeli spy who captured Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann in 1960, died Saturday at his home in Tel Aviv. He was 92.

Rafael Eitan was born on a kibbutz in Mandatory Palestine. After studying at the London School of Economics, he joined Shin Bet, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI, and then made the move to Mossad, becoming the intelligence agency's chief of operations. He led the seven-person operation to capture Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, near his home in Buenos Aires. Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem, and found guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity; he was executed in 1962.

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen said Eitan's "work and his actions will be etched in gold letters in the annals of the state. The foundations that Rafi laid in the first years of the state are a significant layer in the activities of the Mossad even today." Cohen said much of what Eitan did isn't even known to the public. Later in life, Eitan became head of the Pensioners Party, and in 2006, helped his party capture seven seats in parliament. Catherine Garcia

7:46 p.m.

Six Democratic House committee chairs sent Attorney General William Barr a letter on Monday, asking him to send over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full report no later than April 2.

The three-page letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), and House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Barr submitted to Congress his four-page summary of the report on Sunday, but the lawmakers said this is "not sufficient." In addition to the report, they requested "underlying evidence and documents." In his summary, Barr said the Mueller investigation "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated" with Russia. Regarding obstruction of justice, Barr declared that while the report "does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it does not exonerate him." Catherine Garcia

6:55 p.m.

Television producers received an email on Monday from President Trump's campaign director of communications, questioning the credibility of certain guests — nearly all of them Democratic lawmakers.

Tim Murtaugh's memo came on the heels of Attorney General William Barr releasing his summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians ahead of the 2016 election. Barr wrote that Mueller didn't find evidence that Trump or his associates coordinated with Russians, and Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice; immediately after the summary's release, Trump falsely claimed he had been "completely exonerated."

In his memo, Murtaugh calls out Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), former CIA Director John Brennan, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, accusing them of "vigorously and repeatedly" making up stories about connections between the Trump campaign and Russians. Murtaugh continued to scold the producers, saying that there "must be introspection from the media who facilitated the reckless statements and a serious evaluation of how such guests are considered and handled in the future."

Swalwell responded on Twitter, declaring that the "only person who has been caught lying about Russia is Donald Trump. If he thinks I've made a false statement, he can sue me. And I'll beat him in court." Catherine Garcia

5:36 p.m.

The alphabet just isn't cutting it anymore.

Sesame Street, known for its puppet-filled preschool lessons, revealed Monday that it's rolling out a new collaboration with Apple TV+. Yet just as Apple's new service cuts cable for streaming, the Sesame-produced Helpsters will swap the ABC's for CSS, TechCrunch explains.

Sesame Workshop was just one of the many big entertainment industry names joining forces with Apple's streaming service in the past year. Apple revealed a lot more about the service and its stars at a Cupertino, California event on Monday, where Big Bird appeared to introduce Sesame's newest Muppet star. Cody, a fuzzy, yellow, and undefinable creature, will lead the Helpsters — a team of puppets determined to help kids code.

Cody, who, as TechCrunch aptly puts it, "has learned to speak in PR soundbites," said that "coding fosters collaboration, critical thinking skills and is an essential language that every child can learn." It's not likely that kids are going to sit down and start writing C++ after an episode, but rather will learn broader concepts that eventually help them follow the patterns all coding languages rely on.

Beyond unveiling Cody and seemingly — and disappointingly — hinting that Big Bird won't be on the show, the Monday Apple event didn't reveal much about Helpsters. Cody did, however, make sure to let us know Helpsters will be chock full of "fun music" and "cool dance moves." Kathryn Krawczyk

5:33 p.m.

When glaciers are in the news, things are usually looking worse for the wear. But a new NASA study published on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience brought some surprisingly good tidings.

The report shows that the Jakobshvan Isbrae glacier in Greenland, which was previously one of the Earth's fastest-shrinking glaciers, is actually growing thanks to cooling ocean waters off the western coast of Greenland.

Jason Box, a Greenland ice and climate scientists who was not part of the study, told The Associated Press that the discovery "was kind of a surprise" given that most glaciologists had gotten used to a "runaway system."

Box added that Jakobshvan Isbrae is one of the most important glaciers in Greenland because it discharges the most ice in the northern hemisphere.

Unfortunately, there is one caveat — the authors of the study said that the growth is most likely temporary. In fact, per The Hill, the discovery may ultimately be bad news because it means that the ocean temperatures play an even greater role in glacial retreats and advances than scientists previously thought. Read the full study at Nature Geoscience. Tim O'Donnell

4:48 p.m.

The 2019 NFL regular season schedule won't be revealed until April, but the league did announce that longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears will open the season at Solider Field in Chicago.

The news is noteworthy on two fronts: Green Bay and Chicago are two of the NFL's oldest franchises. The Bears, then the Decatur Staleys, were one of the league's charter members in 1920, while the Packers joined a year later. The 2019-2020 season will mark the league's 100th year of existence, so the NFL selecting such storied franchises makes quite a bit of sense.

It also means the league is shirking tradition. The defending Super Bowl champion has opened the season since 2013, but this year the New England Patriots will have to wait until the season's first Sunday night game to take the field. Admittedly, the franchise has had quite a few opportunities to open the season — much to the chagrin of non-Patriots fans everywhere — thanks to their nearly two decade run of unparalleled success.

But New England has also been embroiled in a bit of off-the-field controversy this offseason following owner Robert Kraft's charge for soliciting a prostitute. The NFL will instead be able to delay discussing the incident on opening night with a likely celebratory emphasis on the game's history. Tim O'Donnell

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