CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/CNN) – Instead of shooting for the stars, NASA’s latest mission is heading to the sun.

In a historic collaboration with the European Space Agency, NASA launched a probe from Cape Canaveral on Sunday night.

The solar orbiter will study how the sun affects the space environment through the solar system. If successful — the mission will beam back the first-ever images of the sun’s poles.

The ESA director of science, Günther Hasinger, told NASA “by the end of our solar orbiter mission, we will know more about the hidden force responsible for the sun’s changing behavior and its influence on our home planet than ever before.”

The project has been in development for more than 20 years and has cost $1.5 billion.

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