Historic NASA mission will be first to 'touch the sun'

11 Août, 2018, 01:27 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Orbital path of Parker Solar Probe

Over the course of its mission, the Parker Solar Probe will orbit the sun 24 times while being subjected to extreme heat and radiation, with temperatures expected to reach 1,377C, almost hot enough to melt steel.

"According to a statement from Nasa, the probe is due to orbit within six-and-a-half million kilometres of the Sun's "surface", where the probe will "(face) heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history".

On Saturday, the space agency's Parker Solar Probe is expected to launch to orbit, beginning its long and winding journey that will eventually allow humanity to touch our nearest star for the first time.

Its mission is to help scientists unlock the mysteries of the sun's atmosphere and answer questions like why its corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, is hotter than its surface. Over the next seven years, the Parker Solar Probe will fly by Venus seven times, using the planet's gravity to bring itself closer to the Sun each time.

A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Ultimately, the more we can learn about the Sun, the better.

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Earth, and all the other objects in the Solar System are constantly plowing through what is known as the solar wind - a constant stream of high-energy particles, mostly protons and electrons, hurled into space by The Sun.

Scientists have had to take great care to make sure that the Parker Solar Probe doesn't burn up in the process of conducting its important science.

A heat shield made using carbon composite coated with ceramic will protect it from the extreme conditions, Nasa says.

As NASA explains, the probe's first challenge will be to cancel out the speed at which the earth is moving in relation to the sun.

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