Here comes the Sun - at 700000km an hour

Olive Hawkins
August 15, 2018

The song was basically a social and racial battle cry.

"This mission truly marks the humanity's first visit to a star that will have implications not just here on Earth, but how we better understand our universe", said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. It's gonna actually touch the sun's corona.

NASA on Sunday successfully launched the Parker Solar Probe, the United States space agency's historic small car-size probe to "touch the Sun", from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The project is named in honour of American physicist Eugene Parker. The prevailing opinion at the time was that the space was total vacuum.

Parker Solar Probe will set its sights on the corona to solve long-standing, foundational mysteries of our Sun.

By the time the probe gets to its 22nd, 23rd and 24th orbits of the sun in 2024 and 2025, it will be even deeper into the corona and traveling at a record-breaking 430,000 miles per hour. "And it needs to be, because it takes an enormous amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun".

Can the Parker Probe find out? The unprecedented sun-skimming probe that lifted off from the USA is set to study the "solar winds" proposed in the paper by Dr Eugene Newman Parker, who has now become the first living scientist to have mission named after him.

This is one of the Top space science mission for 2018. Physicist Eugene Parker correctly predicted the presence of solar winds almost five decades ago.

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"Throughout its seven-year mission, the probe will swoop through the Sun's atmosphere 24 times, getting closer to our star than any spacecraft has gone before".

But certainly, it'll be a deeper understanding of the star that gives us life.

"With each orbit, we'll be seeing new regions of the Sun's atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we've wanted to explore for decades".

It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive, and Parker wasn't about to let it take off without him. And the probe is, of course, equipped with heat shields.

The 8-foot (2.4-meter) heat shield will serve as an umbrella that will shade the spacecraft's scientific instruments, with on-board sensors adjusting the protective cover as necessary so that nothing gets fried.

Throughout its seven-year mission, the probe will swoop through the Sun's atmosphere 24 times and at its top speed of nearly 700,000 kilometres per hour, set the record for the fastest-moving object ever made by humanity.

But what would interest you more is that scientists aren't the only ones "aboard". It also holds a memory card containing more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to travel with the spacecraft to the Sun. So all these names have already begun their journey to the centre of the solar system. The data from the spacecraft will start arriving on earth from December.

"Scientists have speculated for 60 years as to why that occurs", Driesman said.

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