NASA counts down to launch of first spacecraft to 'touch Sun'


The mission Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, the closest any man-made instrument has ever got to a star. According to parker, the solar probe will be 3.8 million miles close to the suns atmosphere.

Nestled atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy - one of the world's most powerful rockets - with a third stage added, Parker Solar Probe will blast off toward the Sun with a whopping 55 times more energy than is required to reach Mars.

The main goal of researchers is to study the solar wind. During this mission, he will measure and study the movement of high energy particles near the sun.

"The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth", NASA said.

Researchers hope to learn about solar winds and space weather.

The big launch is now less than 40 hours away, with the probe's first close approach to the sun slated for November.

At 3:33 a.m. EDT on August 11, while most of the asleep, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be abuzz with excitement.

NASA detailed that the Sun has 99.8 percent of the mass of the Solar System, and that it is hard to reach it, because to do so it is necessary to use 55 times more energy used to go to Mars.

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Throughout the mission's duration, the Parker Solar Probe will pass by Venus several time, using the planet's gravity to slow down and adjust its speed, each time getting closer and closer to the center of our solar system. By that time, it will be traveling at around 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object ever.

Parker will get almost seven times closer to the sun than previous spacecraft. So the probe first has to make it out of our atmosphere into space, and then it has to run its engines hard enough to cancel out the momentum from Earth's orbit - otherwise it would follow roughly the same path.

'This is an absolutely seminal moment for the physics of the Sun, ' says Valentin Martinez Pillet, director of the US National Solar Observatory, which is responsible for building the DKIST telescope.

Parker's final trip around the sun will be in 2025. Among other things, the spacecraft will carry a microchip with more than a million names on it.

With the closeness of the Parker Solar Probe to the Sun, WISPR will be capturing images with clarity like never before, he said, because those images actually pick up almost at the same point where the other telescopes loose resolution. Talk of such a solar probe, he said, "probably goes back at least 40 years".

"We've looked at it", said Nicola Fox who is among the scientists working with NASA on the probe". Among the properties that it will be measuring regularly are the electric and magnetic fields present, along with the velocity, density, and temperature of particles that typically make up solar wind-protons, electrons, and heavier ionized nuclei.

"I'm sure that there will be some surprises", Parker said.