Watch NASA’s historic Sun probe mission launch: here’s how

12 August, 2018, 02:58 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

WISPR is built with telescopes that create a solar eclipse type image by blocking the actual sun so its atmosphere, or corona, can be captured.

The shield should enable the spacecraft to survive its close shave with the fiery star, coming within 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) of the Sun's surface. There are no technical issues being worked at this time.

The car-sized spacecraft will fly as fast as 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made spacecraft ever, according to NASA. But this sun-bound probe will be counting on the pull from Venus to slow it down even more. We had to make a heat shield, and we love it.

But what part of this mission will "touch" the sun?

The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick.

During its flights near our star, the role of the heat shield is to protect the fragile electronics on board the probe.

Placed between two carbon sheets is airy carbon foam.

"What this mission is going to be able do is pin down exactly what the structure close to the sun is - the overall structure".

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It is therefore behind this protection that the instruments are hidden.

"If you go out to the moon or if you're planning on going out to Mars or elsewhere, these solar energetic particles provide potentially a very unsafe radiation environment for astronauts", McComas said.

The Parker Solar Probe mission must launch by August 23 or else face a delay until next May.

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 Parker Solar Probe, which could blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as early as 3:33 a.m. Saturday, will dip down to within 4 million miles of the solar surface _ or almost 10 times as close as sun-scorched Mercury.

The spacecraft will be moving at 43,000 miles per hour when it nears the sun's surface. But this is not the case, an unexplained mechanism always pushes them further. When these streams of plasma and energetic particles strike Earth, they interact with our planet's magnetic field, generating lovely northern and southern lights. But the strongest solar storms can cause problems for satellites in orbit and their power grids.

The PSP's primary goal is to trace the energy flow through the solar corona, with an eye toward solar wind acceleration. But it can withstand 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) as well as extreme radiation, thanks to its high-tech carbon. "Why is the corona hotter than the surface of the sun?" Although the corona reaches millions of degrees, it's a wispy, tenuous, environment and so the spacecraft won't need to endure such severe temperatures.

The mission will track how energy and heat move through the solar corona, as well as explore what accelerates the solar wind.

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