NASA Probe Launched To Our Closest Star

14 Août, 2018, 00:14 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Parker Solar Probe launch

As detailed by NASA, the Parker Solar Probe's mission is to "touch" the sun by using gravity assists from Venus to get itself as close as possible to the Earth's nearest star.

NASA on Sunday launched the Parker Solar Probe - the space agency's first mission to the sun - that will explore the sun's atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona.

It will be flying at speeds of 430,000 miles per hour and endure temperatures of 1,300 degrees Celsius, moving as close as within 6.16 million km of the sun's boiling surface.

Passing within 3.8 million miles of the sun's visible surface - well within the shimmering halo of the outer atmosphere, or corona - the spacecraft's heat shield will endure 2,500-degree heating while whipping past the star at a record 430,000 mph, fast enough to fly from NY to Tokyo in less than a minute. "We have not been able to answer these questions".

The car-sized observatory is created to endure temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it flies within 4 million miles of the sun's surface.

Solar scientist Eugene Parker watches as NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for him, launches into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on August 12, 2018. At this point, the probe will be moving at roughly 430,000 miles per hour, setting the record for the fastest-moving object made by humanity. The spacecraft is named after 91-year old solar physicist Eugene Parker, 91, who was the first scientist to describe solar wind in 1958.

"We've accomplished something that decades ago, lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction", he added, describing the probe as one of NASA's "strategically important" missions.

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The Parker will make 24 orbits of the sun over nearly seven years, using Venus to help slow down and reduce its orbital distance to the sun.

But then, the launch of NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft in 1962 - becoming the first robotic spacecraft to make a successful planetary encounter - proved them wrong.

"Eugene Parker had the vision to recognise the possibilities discussed in my thesis, and the magnanimity to write a glowing review of a thesis for an unknown student from a far away country - a PhD thesis that contradicted one of his own theories", he said.

"Wow, here we go!"

"Congratulations to our team and mission partners, we are proud to launch this exceptional spacecraft that will provide invaluable scientific information benefiting all of humankind".

"Tested to withstand up to 1,650 degrees Celsius, the TPS can handle any heat the Sun can send its way, keeping nearly all instrumentation safe", said NASA. The mission's findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts on orbit, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, overwhelm power grids, NASA said.

Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but it was only in recent years that the heat shield technology advanced enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments.

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