The space agency of NASA will be targeting the sun next year. The mission will be to send the craft seven times closer to the sun than any other has come till now. The mission would be named after Eugene Parker, the famous astrophysicist and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago who coined the term “solar wind”. Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and the mission project scientist said, “Parker Solar Probe will leap through the corona, the sun’s atmosphere where the temperature can be up to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit.”
The data collected by the probe could help scientist to find out answers to many questions such as why is corona, the outer plasma-loaded atmosphere hotter than the surface of the sun, and how solar winds form. The Parker Solar Probe would be launched in next Cape Canaveral on July 31, 2018, that would be flying within 4 miles of the sun’s surface. The spacecraft will be facing ruthless heat and radiation that no other man-made structure has gone through.
“I think we’ve really come as far as we can with looking at things. It’s now time to go up and pay it a visit”, Fox further added. Parker was awarded NASA’s distinguished public service medal for his valuable scientific achievement. The purpose of sending the spacecraft to the sun is to study sun’s outer atmosphere and know how stars like ours work as till now the spacecraft have only traveled inside the orbit of Mercury, the innermost planet but have not attempted to move further.
The structure of the spacecraft:
It consists of a short flashlight with an upside-down lampshade where the lightbulb should be placed. Four long antennas that come up from the front side of the probe. It looks similar to spokes of the wheel that will actually collect the data.
After the spacecraft gets launched, the probe of the craft will reach Venus. A spacecraft will be making use of gravity of another planet to pick up the speed and find its way towards its destination. But, when it reaches Venus it will use its gravity to slow down and move forward on a precise path to enter the sun’s orbit. In next eight weeks, the probe will move around the sun with sweltering speeds that would be about 430,000 mph.
Fox concluded saying, “Solar probe is going to be the hottest, fastest mission but I like to call it the coolest, hottest mission under the sun.”