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These NASA jets will get a long look at the eclipse — and search for asteroids

Here's how NASA's planning to chase the total solar eclipse — from the sky

For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofit
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For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofit

Odds are you’ll be able to view this month’s total solar eclipse for a couple of minutes, according to NASA.

But some NASA pilots will get about 7 minutes of observation time during the rare event.

How? Well, they’ll hop in their jets and track the eclipse as it moves across the central United States, following the moon’s shadow from Missouri to Illinois to Tennessee.

“Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and his team will use two of NASA’s WB-57F research jets to chase the darkness across America on Aug. 21,” according to a post on NASA’s website. “Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, Caspi will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.”

“The images of the corona will also allow the team to search for a hypothesized family of asteroids called vulcanoids,” according to NASA’s website.

The website explains these objects could orbit between the Sun and Mercury, leftover from the formation of the solar system.

“If discovered, vulcanoids could change what scientists understand about planet formation,” the website said.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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