NASA launches daring space probe to ‘touch the sun’

NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen ‘ More than 1 million names are aboard the spacecraft, submitted last spring by space enthusiasts, as well as photos of Mr Parker, the man,

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A NASA spacecraft zoomed toward the sun on Sunday on an unprecedented quest to get closer to our star than anything ever sent before.

As soon as this fall, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, that was visible during last August’s total solar eclipse.

It eventually will get within six million kilometres of the surface in the years ahead, staying comfortably cool despite the extreme heat and radiation, and allowing scientists to vicariously explore the sun in a way never before possible.

No wonder scientists consider it the coolest, hottest mission under the sun, and what better day to launch to the sun than Sunday as NASA noted.

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  • Date: 2018-08-12T14:50:00.000Z
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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launches on historic mission to ‘touch the sun’

A space probe that aims to be the first to ‘touch the sun‘ launched early Sunday morning, marking the next step in an effort that scientists say has been 60 years in the making.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. A last-minute technical glitch led NASA to delay the launch, which was initially planned for early on Saturday morning.

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Why Is NASA Launching the Parker Solar Probe to the Sun at Night?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — This weekend, on Saturday (Aug. 11), NASA's Parker Solar Probe will boldly go where no spacecraft has dared go before: up close and personal with the sun. At 3:33 a.m. EDT (0733 GMT), the spacecraft will leave Earth and begin its journey, with its destination hidden and the sky dark, hitching a ride to space atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. 

Once separated from its orbital taxi, the Parker Solar Probe will race toward our home star, eventually swooping within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of its fiery surface. It carries with it four science instruments that will collect a plethora of data about the sun's searing outer atmosphere, known as the corona

Parker Solar Probe cleared for launch to ‘touch the sun’

NASA managers Thursday cleared the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe for launch early Saturday on a daring mission to “touch the sun,” repeatedly flying through its outer atmosphere to find out why the blazing corona is millions of degrees hotter than our star’s visible surface.

The spacecraft’s instruments also will map the sun’s powerful magnetic field, the torrent of electrically charged particles that are constantly blasted away into space in explosive outbursts and the mechanism that accelerates those particles to extreme velocities.

The goal is to understand and be better able to predict the behavior of the solar wind that triggers auroral displays on Earth and occasionally wreaks havoc with power grids and satellites.

Parker Solar Probe: The Mission

In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the sun.

The primary science goals for the mission are to trace the flow of energy and understand the heating of the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind. Parker Solar Probe provides a statistical survey of the outer corona.

Moving on.

Parker Solar Probe will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun, coming as close as 3.83 million miles (and 6.16 million kilometers) to the sun, well within the orbit of Mercury and about seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

NASA’s solar probe cleared for launch on mission to “touch the sun”

“This space weather has a direct influence, not always positive, on our technology in space, our spacecraft, it disrupts our communications, it creates a hazardous environment for astronauts and in the most extreme cases can actually affect our power grids here on the Earth,” said Alex Young, associate director of NASA’s Heliophysics Science Division.

“So it’s of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict this space weather much like we predict weather here on Earth.”

As for the sun’s corona, the fiery halo of shimmering light seen during a total solar eclipse, scientists hope the Parker Solar Probe can answer one of their most fundamental questions.

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