NASA set to launch 'touch the Sun' spacecraft

An artist’s rendering of the Parker Solar Probe nearing the Sun

Since then, NRL telescopes have captured extraordinary images of the Sun's atmosphere, including two of the most recent missions: The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission [11] in 1995 and the NASA STEREO mission launched in 2006.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe will lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 3:33 a.m. EDT.

"It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for 4 years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind", Parker said earlier this week. While these shows are attractive, heavy bursts of particles called solar storms have the potential to wreak havoc on the energy grid, and back in space the high-energy particles represent a serious threat to astronauts and spacecraft.

Space scientists have spent decades trying to understand how energy moves through the corona and what drives the flow of charged particles that the sun continuously casts off.

Giacolene says that advancements in technology will pave the way for new exploration and new discoveries.

The probe will make 24 orbits of the sun and will get within 4 million miles of the star with the gravitational assist of seven Venus flybys.

To protect the suite of science instruments created to unlock answers about the solar corona and solar wind, Parker is a compact, but strong spacecraft. Its closest approach will be in 2024. Notably, the Parker Solar Probe is also the first NASA spacecraft to be named after a living person. Although the mission is scheduled for seven years, we should get the first data readouts sometime in December.

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The probe will reach a speed of 430,000 miles per hour around the sun, setting a record for the fastest manmade object. Combined, all three stages will give the probe the huge speed needed to successfully orbit our star.

"That's a relatively light spacecraft", said Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Over the next seven years, as it circles the sun, the probe will wrap around Venus seven times, each time slowing down and swooping closer to the sun.

Plenty of spacecraft have studied the sun, of course, but none have had the potential of the new mission: neither its orbital path nor its instruments have been possible until now, despite 60 years of scientists' dreams.

From a statement parker from NASA said that the institution designed a solar probe which will be the first and the most important spacecraft to go as close as 6 million kilometres towards the sun.

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".

Also on board: more than 1 million names of space fans submitted to NASA this past spring. "It's very exciting that we'll finally get a look". One set, called the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons, will scoop up particles to measure characteristics like their speed and temperature. I'm sure that there will be some surprises.

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