NASA’s Parker spacecraft rockets toward sun for closest look yet

NASA: Parker Solar Probe launches on mission to 'touch the sun' | Daily Star

NASA will, on Sunday have another go at launching their historic unmanned Parker Solar Probe.

The mission had been expected to launch on Saturday, but was delayed at the last minute due to a technical problem. This followed earlier trouble in the countdown. "Where we see huge magnetic fields that are passing by us, as coronal mass ejections make their way out into the solar system".

The car-sized probe will give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.

These solar outbursts are poorly understood, but have the potential to wipe out power to millions of people.

Justin Kasper, a project scientist and professor at the University of MI, said: 'The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth'.

Knowing more about the solar wind and space storms will also help protect future deep space explorers as they journey toward the Moon or Mars.

Protected by a revolutionary new heat shield, the spacecraft will fly past Venus in October.

The spacecraft is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun's surface.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent to up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation on Earth. It has been outfitted with a heat shield created to keep its instruments at a tolerable 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) at its closest pass.

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Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate.

"We are ready. We have the ideal payload. We have not been able to answer these questions".

Thousands of spectators turned up at the launch site on Sunday, including Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist the spacecraft is named after.

The mission has been more than two decades in the making with the idea first proposed in the Nineties.

The Parker Solar Probe during final pre-launch processing, its white heat shield visible at the top.

"We will also be listening for plasma waves that we know flow around when particles move", Fox added.

He added: "It's a whole new phase and it's gonna be fascinating throughout.and we're just waiting for the data now so the experts can get busy because there's a lot of data will be coming in".

"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".

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