NASA's next mission will attempt to fly through the Sun

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 11, 2018

Parker Solar Probe will travel through the Sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions - and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Understanding how the corona works will help scientists anticipate unsafe space weather storms, which can disrupt the power grid on Earth.

"This is where we live", said NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young.

The US space agency calls this mismatch "the coronal heating problem", and hopes the Parker Solar Probe will solve the mystery of why the corona reaches temperatures of up to 10 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Fifty years after first conceived, NASA is scheduled to begin its historic mission to "touch the sun".

It will actually skim by at a distance of 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) above the Sun's surface. Mission leaders say this may sound extremely impressive, but it's really particularly unsafe, given the conditions prevailing in that place, so there's a huge chance that $ 1.5 billion will be thrown into the ring.

Temperatures in the corona are up to 500,000 degrees celsius and, for an unknown reason, far exceeds the heat of the sun's core.

The Parker Solar Probe is set for take-off at 3.33AM from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 11.

The final result sees the front and back of the heat shield made of carbon-carbon - a material designed for scorching temperatures.

"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is", said Nicola Fox, the project scientist at Johns Hopkins University. During his seven-year mission, the spacecraft intends to go through the corona 24 times.

The probe will fly into the outer corona and is only able to get that close because of modern engineering, Garvin said.

"It's a quick dance into that special region of the sun that we need to sample, explore, measure and get to know because that's where all the good stuff happens", said Garvin, describing the mission as one of the most elaborate trajectories ever.

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

"The Sun's energy is always flowing past our world and even though the solar wind is invisible, we can see it encircling the poles as the aurora, which are lovely - but reveal the enormous amount of energy and particles that cascade into our atmosphere".

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