NASA was going to "see" a piece of the Sun

Michele Stevens
August 12, 2018

NASA counted down Friday to the launch of a $1.5 billion spacecraft that aims to plunge into the Sun's sizzling atmosphere and become humanity's first mission to explore a star.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe will lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 3:33 a.m. EDT.

In the above interview, NASA geophysicist Dr. Alex Young tells our Chief Meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons about the mission.

According to the United States space agency, Eugene Parker, called this cascade of energy and particles, solar wind, a constant release of material from the Sun. A second set, called Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, will figure out how those particles got to be moving so fast - more than 1 million miles per hour (500 km per second) - in the first place. "To send it into such brutal conditions is highly ambitious", said Nicola Fox, a project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University applied physics laboratory. So we'll launch from from Kennedy on Saturday (August 11) morning on our handsome Delta 4 Heavy.

Another mystery scientists hope to solve: What drives the solar wind?

NASA selected ULA´s Delta IV Heavy for its unique ability to deliver the necessary energy to begin the Parker Solar Probe´s journey to the sun. During its elliptical orbit, the Parker Solar Probe will make it up to 430,000mph, which would be a new speed record.


How do solar winds, these currents of particles from the solar corona, form and escape into space?

Understanding more about solar activity could help scientists forecast the large eruptions from the sun that pose a threat to satellite and communications systems. While the previous NRL telescopes are on spacecraft either on lower Earth orbit or just outside of Earth's orbit, they are still getting fuzzy views of the Sun. These explosions create space weather events that can pummel Earth with high energy particles, endangering astronauts, interfering with Global Positioning System and communications satellites and, at their worst, disrupting our power grid. For the sake of the Parker mission, Betsy and her team made a thermal shield measuring 8 feet in diameter and about 4 inches thick, made of a carbon alloy.

All of our data on the corona so far have been remote.

Closely observing this region will help experts identify the source of that coronal heating, along with the process that accelerates the solar wind at enormous speeds when it leaves the Sun.

Parker got to inspect the spacecraft last fall. Among other things, the spacecraft will carry a microchip with more than a million names on it.

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