NASA Launched Latest Space Rocket Parker Solar Probe To ‘Touch The Sun’

First Posted: Apr 05, 2019 08:51 AM EDT

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched a new spacecraft heading towards the sun, bearing the most daring quest to get closer to the giant star - a feat that has never been done before until now.

A report from BBC UK revealed that the US space agency has just recently fired up a car-sized spacecraft dubbed as the Parker Solar Probe.

The probe satellite, which flew on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Florida on Sunday.

Named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, the Parker Solar Probe is slated to make 24 close encounters with the sun over the course of seven years.

Using the most-advanced instrumentations capable of receiving remote and direct control from NASA, the probe should be able to lend scientists here on land a much closer look into the physics of the sun's corona. This particular part of the sun is considered to be the center of solar activity which directly affects the Earth.

The project, which costs the US government a hefty USD$1.5 billion, will head straight through the corona of the sun, or the star's outer atmosphere. The closest it can get is 6 million kilometers from the sun's scorching hot surface.

Despite the extreme heat and radiation from the giant ball of fire, the probe is still deemed capable of maintaining just well above its operational temperature.  

This was made possible through NASA's latest breakthrough in heat shield technology.

According to China Daily, the Parker Solar Probe is mounted with the NASA's proprietary Thermal Protection System, which is composed primarily of new carbon components.

Andy Driesman, head of the Parker Solar Probe project at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, said that the thermal system is the main aspect which "allows the spacecraft to operate at about room temperature."

Other than the carbon-carbon composite heat shield, the satellite is installed with other space-tech wonders such as a solar array cooling system and an onboard fault management system.

The spacecraft is scheduled to fly by past Venus this coming October and will officially establish its first solar encounter by November.

About Eugene Parker

The 91-year-old scientist was the first to propose the existence of solar-wind six decades ago. In his findings, he stipulated that solar winds are the supersonic stream of particles blowing off from the sun at a steady rate.

Parker was there during the launching of the spacecraft.

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