Nasa counts down to launch of first spacecraft to 'touch Sun'

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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.

This mission will study the dynamics of the sun's magnetic fields, which mechanisms heat the corona, and what accelerates solar winds. That's the steady, supersonic stream of charged particles blasting off the corona and into space in all directions. Sandwiched between two carbon sheets is airy carbon foam.

The memory card also contains photos of Dr. Parker and his groundbreaking 1958 scientific paper on solar wind. It is equipped with a Northrup Grumman solid-fuel upper stage that will act to drop the Parker probe out of Earth's 18-mile-per-second orbit around the sun, allowing it to fall inward for the first of seven gravity assist flybys of Venus over a planned seven-year mission.

Plenty of spacecraft have studied the sun, of course, but none have had the potential of the new mission: neither its orbital path nor its instruments have been possible until now, despite 60 years of scientists' dreams. "The solar corona is one of the last places in the solar system where no spacecraft has visited before".

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Scientists hope that the Parker mission will help solve the problem of coronal heating and the mechanism behind the acceleration of the solar wind.

NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe is the space agency's first spacecraft to be named after a living individual.

"We will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission". It's expected to make the first Venus pass at the end of September. You see, just like that whimsical fire, the corona glows far, far hotter than the furnace that is the Sun itself.

Those instruments tackle four different questions about the sun. That's 10 times closer than Mercury's orbit and 7 times closer than the current record holders, the Helios probes that were launched in the mid 70's.

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It weighs a mere 635 kg.

Image: The spacecraft can withstand enormous heat.

"And it needs to be, because it takes an enormous amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun", Driesman added.

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.

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According to Nicola fox from johns Hopkins university who is responsible for the project initiation said that this will be the hottest and hardest missions ever done to a star within the solar system. Why in this region does the solar atmosphere suddenly get so energized that it escapes from the hold of the sun and bathes all of the planets?

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