The Secret Behind NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 15, 2018

PATRICK MOORE: Liftoff of the mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA's Parker Solar Probe - a daring mission to shed light on the mysteries of our closest star, the Sun.

Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Aug. 12 to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission.

NASA's three-stage United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carried the 635 kg-spacecraft which is almost the size of a small vehicle.

Additionally, the third stage includes the STAR 49BV solid rocket motor, which is created to place the spacecraft into its final trajectory.

"Recent advances in materials science gave us the material to fashion a heat shield in front of the spacecraft not only to withstand the extreme heat of the Sun, but to remain cool on the backside". "It took a while for the Delta IV Heavy to clear the pad", Fox said, "but I was prepared for that, so I didn't panic".

Project members at the Laurel operations center erupted in cheers early Sunday morning when it was announced that the probe was operating successfully.

During its nominal mission lifetime of just under seven years, the Parker Solar Probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun - reaching within 3.8 million miles of the Sun's surface at the closest approach. The Parker probe is also the first spacecraft to be named after a living person- astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91- he was the first to describe solar wind in 1958.

Even so, the probe won't exactly touch the sun or its 900,000-degree to 2-million degree aura called the solar corona, even with all the brag-worthy, new-age thermal engineering.

According to Szabo, "NASA was planning to send a mission to the solar corona for decades, however, we did not have the technology that could protect a spacecraft and its instruments from the heat".

Parker watched the launch at Cape Canaveral, and said it was his first time seeing a rocket blast off in person.

Parker also theorised an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, which is - contrary to what was expected by physics laws - hotter than the surface of the Sun itself. He proposed the existence of solar wind, a steady, supersonic stream of particles blasting off the sun, 60 years ago. "We at NASA and the Launch Services Program are thrilled to be part of this mission".

"We've accomplished something that decades ago, lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said.

But that's not the only record being broken here, the probe will also be breaking speed records by traveling at a whopping 430,000 miles per hour as it completes 24 orbits of our galaxy's star.

The spacecraft's heat shield will serve as an umbrella, shading the science instruments during the close, critical solar junctures.

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