NASA mission to get closer to sun than ever before
09 August, 2018, 01:44
In the coming week NASA is launching its Parker Solar Probe; a spacecraft that's specially designed "to touch the sun".
At about 4 a.m. on August 11, the Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral carrying ISʘIS, an instrument suite led by Princeton's David McComas to measure energetic particles from the sun's corona and the solar wind.
This is one of the most daring missions that the space agency has ever envisioned and its success requires a speedy launch, notes Space.com. The challenge, she said, has always been how to protect such a craft from the sun's intense heat.
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The car-sized Parker Solar Probe only weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms), but relies on the massive United Launch Alliance rocket to carry it swiftly into space.
Studying solar activity and the Sun's corona helps scientists discover more about how the Sun works.
"Previous missions have been really important for solar science as we study from afar - and we can learn a lot from studying from afar - but Parker Solar Probe is actually going and touching, nearly kissing the sun, so we can learn so much more", said Elizabeth Congdon, the thermal protection system lead engineer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
It will make its final approach in 2025 where it will come within 4 million miles of the sun's surface. The gravity assist is scheduled for October 2 and will put the probe on track to reach its first point of close approach to the sun on November 5. Eric Christian, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told UPI. The FIELDS instrument suite, a series of antennas and magnetometers, will measure shape and scale of the corona's electric and magnetic fields.
It will blast off inside a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The National Administration of Aeronautics and Space (NASA) has devised an spacecraft built with a material capable of withstanding temperatures so high as to get close to the Sun and study it, according to the US agency. The probe will become the fastest manmade object in history as it speeds toward the sun.
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The mission was named after Eugene Newman Parker, a physicist who proposed a number of concepts about how stars give off energy.
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