Nasa successfully launch spacecraft that will 'touch the sun'

Nasa successfully launch spacecraft that will 'touch the sun'

In an unprecedented quest, the Parker Solar Probe will fly within 3.8 million miles of the sun's surface.

"We'll also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 690,000km/h (430,000mph) - NY to Tokyo in under a minute!" she told BBC News.

"Parker Solar Probe is a mission of extremes", Kelly Korreck, an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said. With the new probe, NASA is aiming to collect data on corona and its solar winds in order to help understand and predict how it will be further affecting the earth's space environment.

The mission had been expected to launch on Saturday, but was delayed at the last minute due to a technical problem.

Aram....what's the latest? Well Mark...after a one-day delay, NASA's Parker Solar Probe successfully lifted off on Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is now on its way to the Sun.

The heat shield is made of a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite foam material between two carbon fiber face sheets.

The spacecraft is the only NASA probe in history to be named after a living person - 91-year-old solar physicist Eugene Parker, who first described the solar wind in 1958.

"We've had to wait so long for our technology to catch up to our dreams", said project scientist Nicola Fox of John Hopkins University.

This image made available by NASA shows an artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun.

The probe aims to dip directly into our star's outer atmosphere, or corona.

As getting so close to the Sun requires slowing down, Parker will use the gravity of our neighbor planet, Venus: seven times. That probably sounds like a bad idea, blasting something into the sun, the flawless sphere of unfathomably hot plasma at the centre of our solar system.

"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.

The sun is 93 million miles from Earth. "The spacecraft will hurtle around the Sun at speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour".

For more than 60 years, scientist have wondered how energy and heat move through the solar corona and what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. That may sound like a lot of distance, but the corona of the sun is hotter than the surface of the sun itself; its temperature is measured in the millions of degrees.

Finally, after two firings of the second-stage engine, the Parker Solar Probe and its Northrup Grumman solid-fuel upper stage were released from the Delta 4.

NASA said the probe entered orbit around the Sun about 40 minutes after liftoff.

It was the first rocket launch ever witnessed by Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. "Where we see huge magnetic fields that are passing by us, as coronal mass ejections make their way out into the solar system".

PSP is carrying four instrument suites created to study the sun's magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind.

Related Articles