Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

NASA sun mission to demystify sun and its inner machinations

NASA sun mission to demystify sun and its inner machinations

It will then loop around the star 24 times, coming as close as 6.16 million km (3.83 million miles) to the surface.

"Wow, here we go".

The Parker Solar Probe, a seven-year NASA mission that will study the Sun from inside its corona, has launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive, and Parker wasn't about to let it take off without him. Less than 2 minutes before its planned liftoff on Saturday (Aug. 11), a helium pressure alarm went off on the Delta IV Heavy, thwarting the day's launch attempt.

Renowned physicist Eugene Parker watches the launch of the spacecraft that bears his name - NASA's Parker Solar Probe - early in the morning on August 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. But Sunday gave way to complete success. The principal investigator, Professor Justin Kasper of the University of MI, is an MIT graduate and was trained by Alan Lazarus, working on the Faraday cup launched on the DSCOVR satellite in 2014.

"Now I have to turn from really biting my nails to thinking about the interesting things [to come] that I don't know yet, which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five, six, or seven years", he said. The shield has been tested to withstand up to 1,650 degrees celsius. In 1958, when Parker explained his concept of streaming particles from the Sun there were no takers. "We've looked at it". "Congratulations to our team and mission partners, we are proud to launch this exceptional spacecraft that will provide invaluable scientific information benefiting all of humankind".

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A better understanding of the sun's life-giving and sometimes violent nature could also enable earthlings to better protect satellites and astronauts in orbit, along with the power grids so vital to today's technology-dependent society, said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's science mission chief.

The Parker Solar Probe had successfully reached space and phoned home.

The Probe will travel 149.6 million km distance to the sun from the earth at a record speed of around of 690,000 km/h, breaking the record of 265,000 km/h set by NASA's Juno Probe on its journey to Jupiter in July 2016.

Parker watched the launch at Cape Canaveral, and said it was his first time seeing a rocket blast off in person. Its final orbit will see it pass within 3.8 million miles of the surface, travelling at around 430,000 mph. Nothing from planet Earth has ever gone that fast.

Even Fox has difficulty comprehending the mission's derring-do. Speaking to the Multiverse programme run by the University of California at Berkeley, she said her father propped her up in front of the television so she could witness the historic event.

The probe makes use of a heat shield known as the Thermal Protection System, or TPS, which is eight feet in diameter and 4.5 inches thick. The trick was making the spacecraft small, compact and light enough to travel at incredible speeds, while surviving the sun's punishing environment and the extreme change in temperature when the spacecraft is out near Venus.

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