NASA spacecraft hurtles toward the sun

Muriel Hammond
August 13, 2018

But an 8-foot-wide heat shield out front - only 4.5 inches thick - should keep the probe's electronics safe at room temperature.

The probe is created to study the sun's ultra-hot outer atmosphere, called the corona, among other mysteries of our star.

Parker will enter the Sun's atmosphere to sample conditions around our star, reaching as far as 6.16 million km from the Sun's scorching surface.

Justin Kasper, a project scientist and professor at the University of MI, said: 'The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth'. "We're in for some learning over the next several years", he said as he watched the lift-off. The two side boosters shut down and fell away as expected a bit less than four minutes after liftoff.

Nicky Fox, project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, said: 'The sun is full of mysteries.

During its nominal mission lifetime of just under seven years, the Parker Solar Probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun, reaching within 3.8 million miles of the Sun's surface at the closest approach.

NASA on Sunday, August 12, blasted off its first-ever spaceship to explore the Sun, the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe, on a strategic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of risky solar storms.

By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the unmanned probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around the Sun.

The mission called Parker Solar Probe (PSP), commenced after a 24-hour delay.

It could be due to interactions between electrically charged particles and the sun's powerful magnetic field, or it could be the result of countless "nanoflares" governed by another mechanism.

He proposed the existence of the solar wind 60 years ago.

The probe is NASA's first to be named after a living person. "We have not been able to answer these questions".

The plan is that it will slingshot around Venus a load of times, gradually building up speed and moving closer and closer to our galaxy's star.

With this first-of-its-kind stellar mission, scientists hope to unlock the many mysteries of the sun, a commonplace yellow dwarf star around 4.5 billion years old.

"I really have to turn from biting my nails in getting it launched, to thinking about all the interesting things which I don't know yet and which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five or six or seven years", Parker said on NASA TV.

During the journey, the spacecraft will fly by Venus at speeds of 4,30,000 miles per hour, the equivalent of flying from NY to Tokyo in one minute.

Parker, who first detailed the possibility of solar winds all the way back in 1958, said of the launch, "Wow, here we go!"

Main objectives of Parker Solar Probe?

We just got one step closer to "touching" the sun.

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