Published: Thu, March 08, 2018
Research | By Dana Schwartz

NASA scientists prepare a unique mission to the Sun

NASA scientists prepare a unique mission to the Sun

Once launched this summer from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the probe will eventually come within 4 million miles of our star, closer than any other spacecraft.

Costing $1.5 billion dollars to build, launch and operate, Parker Solar Probe also aims to answer one of the most perplexing questions about the Sun: Why is the corona, the area immediately surrounding it, hotter than its surface?

If you want your name to travel through the Sun's atmosphere, braving brutal heat and radiation conditions, here comes your chance.

Submit your name and it will be included in a memory card that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe spacecraft.

NASA is doing this to raise public awareness for the breakthrough mission, which may possibly change the landscape of human knowledge on the sun and the solar system. It will orbit the star at a distance of just under 4 million miles, and it will have to endure temperatures of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The essential science objectives for the mission are to follow how vitality and warmth travel through the sunlight based crown and to investigate what quickens the sun based breeze and in addition sun oriented fiery particles. Given that, the Sun has both the potential to sustain and destroy like on Earth, the importance of this mission is well justified.

Scientists are banking on its 4.5-inch thick shield to protect it from the sun's raging temperatures, which will reach as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit outside the craft. That's fast enough to get from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in under a minute.

Even the most dedicated sky watching hobbyists have to accept the fact that observing the fantastic accomplishments of NASA and other space-faring organizations is as close as they'll get to participating in the exploration of the cosmos.

Studying the effects of the Sun on Space and the planetary system is known as heliophysics.

In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars - including our Sun - give off energy. Many NASA missions have continued to focus on this complex space environment defined by our star.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission - scheduled to launch in summer 2018 - will travel through the sun's atmosphere and get closer to the solar surface than any spacecraft before it. LWS is overseen by the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The Parker Solar Probe will be subjected to the most intense journey of any manmade spacecraft to date. APL is designing and building the spacecraft and will also operate it.

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