NASA poised to blast off first spacecraft to explore Sun

NASA poised to blast off first spacecraft to explore Sun

NASA poised to blast off first spacecraft to explore Sun

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, a project scientist and professor at the University of MI.

They plan to launch the Parker Solar Probe, atop the Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage rocket, this Saturday August 11th.

Beyond the intrigue of humanity's closest-ever observations of a star and pure scientific curiosity about how our universe works, Halekas said, the probe's findings could inform some aspects of everyday life on Earth.

NASA hopes the Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun. "When you look at what gets to Earth or to these spacecraft, it's ambiguous".

Over decades of spaceflight, we've sent probes to Mars, Saturn and even our beloved dwarf planet Pluto - uncovering the mysteries of the planets of our solar system.

Scientists want to learn about the solar wind which causes geomagnetic storms.

The probe, which was designed and built by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, is also carrying more than 1.1 million names to the Sun.

It's created to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that's capable of withstanding 1,370 degrees Celsius.

"Stay tuned - Parker is about to take flight", NASA announced today in a news release, which summarized the solar probe's mission and the eight year-long effort it took to finally see it soar to the heavens.

"The spacecraft and most of the payload will be protected by a shield from the Sun's heat, which will be as high as 500 times what we experience at Earth", Raouafi says.

Other instruments will measure the sun's magnetic field and the solar wind, particles so energized by the sun that they not only escape the sun's gravity but reach speeds exceeding 1 million miles per hour. Solar Orbiter, another probe launched by the European Space Agency, will observe the radiation that propagates in the solar corona from a little further away.

The closest one of these flights to the sun will be 0.04 astronomical units, or nearly 4 million miles from the surface of the Sun. The spacecraft will repeatedly fly through the sun's outer atmosphere to find out why the blazing corona is millions of degrees hotter than our star's visible surface. After passing past Venus to get onto the right trajectory, the probe should make its first visit to the Sun in November 2018. The Mariner 2, a NASA spacecraft en route to Venus, measured energetic particles streaming through interplanetary space - exactly what Dr. Parker had predicted.

The PSP's primary goal is to trace the energy flow through the solar corona, with an eye toward solar wind acceleration.

In 2017, the craft - initially called the Solar Probe Plus - was renamed the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker.

"I'm sure that there will be some surprises", Parker said.

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