NASA set to launch historic 'touch the Sun' spacecraft

Jo Lloyd
August 14, 2018

The powerful Delta 4 Heavy and a solid-propellant upper stage will provide the energy needed to counteract Earth's 18-mile-per-second orbital velocity, allowing the Parker Solar Probe to fall into the inner solar system.

"Parker Solar Probe would be just 4cm away from the Sun".

NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, the size of a auto, aims to plunge into the Sun's sizzling atmosphere and become humanity's first mission to explore a star.

The probe won't actually land on the sun, but it will make history - getting closer than any other man-made object.

It's created to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that's capable of withstanding 1,370 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit).

"As we picked up the count at T-minus four and got into a terminal count, the team received a gaseous helium red pressure alarm that kicked them out".

According to NASA, the forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favourable weather conditions for launch.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information. The spacecraft will repeatedly fly through the sun's outer atmosphere to find out why the blazing corona is millions of degrees hotter than our star's visible surface.

Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only is the corona about 300 times hotter than the Sun's surface, it also hurls powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms and disrupt Earth's power grid. And so, these are sort of the three fundamental questions we want to address: "the speed of the solar wind, this eruptive phenomena, solar storms, and how is the corona heated?"

The device will measure the electromagnetic field of the Sun and determine the nature of the particles emitted by the star.

The probe is named after Gene Parker, who in 1958 wrote a paper theorizing the expansion of the solar atmosphere and solar wind.

"We'll also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 690,000km/h (430,000mph) - NY to Tokyo in under a minute!" she told BBC News. In this Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, astrophysicist Eugene Parker attends a news conference about the Parker Solar Probe named after him, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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