NASA's Parker Solar Probe to give closest look ever at the sun

Theresa Obrien
August 14, 2018

The spacecraft will fly straight through the edges of the outer solar atmosphere, or cornea, making it the first spacecraft to fly that close to the sun.

The Living with a Star program is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

These explosions create space weather events that can pummel Earth with high energy particles, endangering astronauts, interfering with Global Positioning System and communications satellites and, at their worst, disrupting our power grid.

A Saturday launch attempt was delayed due to a technical glitch.

Aram....what's the latest? Well Mark...after a one-day delay, NASA's Parker Solar Probe successfully lifted off on Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is now on its way to the Sun.

"We've been inside the orbit of Mercury and done incredible things, but until you go and touch the sun, you can't answer these questions", said Nicola Fox, mission project scientist.

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.

Using Venus' gravity to pick up speed, the NASA probe will complete seven flybys in seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun. That probably sounds like a bad idea, blasting something into the sun, the ideal sphere of unfathomably hot plasma at the centre of our solar system.

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.

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"We at NASA and the Launch Services Program are thrilled to be part of this mission".

While the Parker Solar Probe will travel through a space with temperatures of several million degrees, the surface of the heat shield that faces the Sun will only get heated to about 1,400 degree Celsius. The spacecraft reached about 27 million miles near the sun, covering nearly one-third of total 93 million miles distance from the Earth to Sun. With a communication lag time of 16 minutes, the spacecraft must fend for itself at the sun.

The probe will reach tremendous speeds as it orbits the sun.

The journey, called the Parker Solar Probe, will loop around the sun 24 times, flying within the star's hot million-degree atmosphere.

"The Sun's energy is always flowing past our world", Nicola Fox, mission project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement of the mission."And even though the solar wind is invisible, we can see it encircling the poles as the aurora, which are handsome ― but reveal the enormous amount of energy and particles that cascade into our atmosphere". So Parker will be the first space ship that close to the solar surface.

Nasa has launched a satellite that will fly closer to the sun than any of its predecessors. The shield's front surface will be able to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft up to 2,500 degree Fahrenheit.

The University of Chicago professor said he had been biting his nails in anticipation.

This was the 37 launch of the Delta IV rocket, and the 10 in the Heavy configuration. The station gets closer to the sun than any other manmade object.

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