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  • The Parker Solar Probe can withstand nearly 1380 degrees Celsius (2,500 Fahrenheit) as it soars 3.8 million miles from the Sun.

    The Parker Solar Probe can withstand nearly 1380 degrees Celsius (2,500 Fahrenheit) as it soars 3.8 million miles from the Sun. | Photo: NASA

Published 9 August 2018

"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is," said Project Scientist Nicola Fox, of John Hopkins University.

The Parker Solar Probe will set out on a historic mission on August 11 to "touch the Sun," Nasa scientists say of their plans to send the spacecraft through the Sun's corona.

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'"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is," said Project Scientist Nicola Fox, of John Hopkins University.

Designed by the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins University, the machine is built to withstand nearly 1380 degrees Celsius (2,500 Fahrenheit) as it soars 3.8 million miles from the Sun's surface.

Information gathered by the Parker Solar Probe will "revolutionize" the world’s understanding of the Sun, the U.S. space agency said on its website. The machine will pass through "brutal heat" and radiation to study energetic particles, magnetic fields, and plasma while recording solar wind.

Changes in space weather brought on by the flow of ionized gases around the Sun, or solar wind, could seriously affect life on Earth and the space environment, Nasa said.

"Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on," the agency said.

"As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean."

The spacecraft will leave the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida at approximately 3:33 a.m. local time on August 11. The mission will send the solar probe seven times closer than Helios 2, which flew just 27 million miles from the Sun in 1976.


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