Red-hot voyage to sun will bring us closer to our star

The Parker Solar Probe

Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "By studying our star, we can learn not only more about the Sun".

The Parker Solar Probe is set for take-off at 3.33AM from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 11.

Understanding how the corona works will help scientists anticipate unsafe space weather storms, which can disrupt the power grid on Earth.

"By understanding exactly how these particles are accelerated we will be able to predict with more reliability when these storms are occurring and how intense they will be", said Mihir Desai, Southwest Research scientist and co-investigator on the Parker Solar Probe.

Space fans have been waiting a long time for the historic launch of NASA's Parker Solar Probe. Mission leaders say this may sound extremely impressive, but it's really particularly unsafe, given the conditions prevailing in that place, so there's a huge chance that $ 1.5 billion will be thrown into the ring.

At closest approach to the Sun, the front of Parker Solar Probe's solar shield faces temperatures approaching 2,500 F (1,377 C).


"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is", said Nicola Fox, the project scientist at Johns Hopkins University. The records will start falling with the first orbit, when the Parker probe comes within 15.5 million miles (25 million kilometers) of the sun and beats the current record holder, NASA's former Helios 2 spacecraft.

NASA calls this mismatch "the coronal heating problem", and hopes the Parker Solar Probe will solve the mystery of why the corona reaches temperatures of up to 10 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The 11cm-tick carbon-composite heat shield will protect the probe, which is the size of a auto, from outside temperatures of up to 1,377C.

"There are missions that are studying the solar wind, but we're going to get to the birthplace", Fox said. A series of instruments on board the spacecraft will measure the magnetic and electric fields, plasma waves and high energy particles. Pictures of Corona will be taken through the spacecraft and the surface will be measured.

The NASA launch window is scheduled for exactly 3.33am EDT (8.33am BST), on Saturday, August 11.

For its launch, the Parker probe - about the size of a vehicle - will be attached to a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy expendable rocket; the second most powerful rocket in the world behind SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which earlier this year carried a Tesla Roadster into space.

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