NASA to launch car-sized spacecraft Parker Solar Probe to study Sun

Nasa prepares daring mission to 'touch the Sun'

NASA outlined plans to "touch the sun" ahead of space launch on Saturday (August 11) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida that will send a probe on a seven-year mission closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft has ventured.

But the Parker Solar Probe will hopefully have no such issue, thanks to a state-of-the-art heat shield that not only can fearless the blistering heat of the sun, but will also make sure the spacecraft stays cool, the Inquisitr previously reported.

"The Thermal Protection System (the heat shield) is one of the spacecraft's mission-enabling technologies", said Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe project manager at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

The Parker Solar Probe will be studying the sun through 2025. In this same vein, NASA is preparing to launch a spacecraft none other than the Parker probe straight towards the Sun. "It allows the spacecraft to operate at about room temperature". The device, which will be made of the observations, called Solar Probe Parker. Although our own magnetic field generally does a good job deflecting the solar wind, occasionally a few "gusts" will make it into the atmosphere, creating stunning auroras. As we go from the surface of the sun, which is 10,000 degrees, and move up into the corona, we find ourselves quickly at millions of degrees. And what powers the solar wind, the stream of charged particles that flows outward from the corona at speeds on the order of a million miles per hour?

Sixty years ago, a young astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, proposed the existence of solar wind. But the probe also has solar panels that, when exposed to radiation, will power the satellite when its orbit takes it to less hot areas a little further from the Sun.

The probe will have to do seven orbits over seven years around the sun, with gravity assistance from Venus, to reduce that sideways speed.

While it is hoped that the probe will retrieve some scientific data, the main objective is to simply record some images of the sun from a much closer distance than we are now capable of. Helios 2 got within 27 million miles of the sun in 1976.

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This historic mission sets out to unravel some of the biggest puzzles regarding our sun, its scorching outer atmosphere known as the solar corona, and the solar wind - the mysterious outflow of charged particles it oozes into the solar system.

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation´s proven heavy lifter, delivering high-priority missions for the US Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. Such particles can interfere with satellite electronics, especially for satellites outside of Earth's magnetic field.

An artist's rendition of the PSP venturing close to the Sun's surface. At 3.8 million miles distance, NASA said it will be seven times closer than any spacecraft before it.

The Parker Solar Probe will carry a chip with photos of Parker, his revolutionary paper and his message to the sun: "Let's see what lies ahead". His work revolutionized our understanding of the sun and interplanetary space.

The corona is also where the solar material is heated to millions of degrees and where the most extreme events on the Sun occur, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections - accelerating particles to a fraction of the speed of light.

The Parker Solar Probe is quite small, about the size of a small vehicle, and it weighs about 1,500 pounds. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what's going on in the solar wind.

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