Nasa's Parker probe sets off for moment in the sun

10 Août, 2018, 17:07 | Auteur: Therese Cote

Scientists also hope the probe can help them to answer why the corona, the outermost layer of the sun's atmosphere, is 300 times hotter than its surface.

The probe will travel at 430,000 miles an hour, faster than any spacecraft in history, and use Venus's gravity over the course of seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun.

NASA's plans for the probe include multiple orbits of the Sun, repeatedly slingshotting itself around the star and gathering vital science data each time it makes its approach.

This will be within 6 million kilometres of the sun's surface, closer than any other spacecraft has been before.

The spacecraft will orbit the sun 24 times - sampling the solar wind and providing close-up observations - while enduring temperatures of 1,377C (2510F).

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The mission Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, the closest any man-made instrument has ever got to a star.

In order to combat the intense temperatures, the probe has been covered with a carbon composite coated ceramic capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,650C (3,002F).

NASA says it's ready for a historic trip to the sun this weekend.

Understanding more about solar activity could help scientists forecast the large eruptions from the sun that pose a threat to satellite and communications systems.

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