Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

NASA ready for trip to the sun

The spacecraft will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun. Pic John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab Image The spacecraft will use seven Venus flybys to get nearer the sun. Pic NASA
Sandra Phillips | 11 August, 2018, 01:29

At 3:33 a.m. EDT, the Parker Solar Probe will launch from Space Launch Complex 37 on Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The probe will conduct 24 orbits to approach the sun. This will place the probe just 3.8 million miles from the Sun's surface - seven times closer to the star than any craft that came before it, according to NASA. The Parker Solar Probe will embark on a almost seven-year venture, becoming the first spacecraft to have a direct encounter with a star.

Its mission is to help scientists unlock the mysteries of the sun's atmosphere and answer questions like why its corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, is hotter than its surface.

"We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", project scientist Nicky Fox said in a statement.

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A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Ultimately, the more we can learn about the Sun, the better.

The probe will plunge through the sun's atmosphere, called the corona, to gather data to help us understand what part of the sun is providing the energy source for solar winds, solar particles and how they accelerate to such high speeds. These disturbances can also create complications as we attempt to send astronauts and spacecraft farther away from the Earth.

Scientists have had to take great care to make sure that the Parker Solar Probe doesn't burn up in the process of conducting its important science. The spacecraft and its suite of delicate instruments will be protected from the sun's extreme heat by a carbon fiber heat shield.

The powerful rocket is needed to propel the payload, NASA's Parker Solar Probe, to the sun.

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