Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

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

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

A space probe that aims to be the first to "touch the sun" is slated to launch this weekend, marking the next step in an effort that scientists say has been 60 years in the making.NASA's Parker Solar Probe will lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 3:33 a.m. EDT. 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.

"It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for four years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind", Parker said earlier this week.

Its mission is to help scientists unlock the mysteries of the sun's atmosphere and answer questions like why its corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, is hotter than its surface.

NASA will use the data collected by the Parker probe in order to better prepare us for solar winds, which present problems for satellites and even our power grids here on Earth, Engadget explained.

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"We are going to be in an area that is so exciting, where solar wind - we believe - will be accelerating", said NASA planetary science division director Jim Green. During its closest solar approaches, the spacecraft will hurtle through the corona at 690 kilometres an hour, setting a speed record. These disturbances can also create complications as we attempt to send astronauts and spacecraft farther away from the Earth. "To send it into such brutal conditions is highly ambitious", said Nicola Fox, a project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University applied physics laboratory.

This is the first-ever spacecraft to be named after someone still alive. The spacecraft is now scheduled to launch tomorrow (Aug. 11) at 3:33 a.m. (0733 GMT). It is expected to approach the sun in 2024. It will fly by our solar system's hottest planet seven times over seven years, using the gravity of Venus to shrink its own oval orbit and draw increasingly closer to the sun.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent to up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation on Earth.

That's a relatively light spacecraft.

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It will set the record for the fastest spacecraft in history.

The Parker Solar Probe will go closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it.

We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star.

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