Lift-Off! NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe To 'Touch The Sun'

12 August, 2018, 16:08 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • The mission costs £1.17billion

Parker Solar Probe will explore the corona, a region of the Sun only seen from Earth when the Moon blocks out the Sun's bright face during total solar eclipses.

NASA on Sunday blasted off a $1.5 billion spacecraft toward the Sun on a historic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of unsafe solar storms.

One of the reasons, scientists are sending the probe is the Sun's atmosphere and the weird property it exhibits, of being hotter than the surface of the sun itself. NASA hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth's space environment.

NASA will, on Sunday have another go at launching their historic unmanned Parker Solar Probe.

By the time Parker gets to its 22nd, 23rd and 24th orbits of the sun in 2024 and 2025, it will be even deeper into the corona and traveling at a record-breaking 430,000 mph (690,000 kilometers per hour).

The probe will use Venus's gravity over the course of it's 93million-miles journey over seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to "touch the sun", as Nasa calls it.

The launch was originally set for Saturday morning, but was scrubbed at the last minute due to technical glitches.

"I really have to turn from biting my nails in getting it launched, to thinking about all the interesting things which I don't know yet and which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five or six or seven years", Parker said on NASA TV. The launch lit the night sky at Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:31 am (0731 GMT).

"Three, two, one, zero, and liftoff!"

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Speaking after the launch, the 91-year-old told NASA TV: "It's a whole new phase and it's going to be fascinating throughout".

The central core booster continued firing for another minute and a half before it, too, shut down and fell away from the fast-moving second stage.

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, a project scientist and professor at the University of MI.

The probe is guarded by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick, enabling the spacecraft to survive its close shave with the fiery star.

Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine".

Parker will enter the Sun's atmosphere to sample conditions around our star, reaching as far as 6.16 million km from the Sun's scorching surface.

"We've had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams", Fox said.

"During summer, Earth and the other planets in our solar system are in the most favourable alignment to allow us to get close to the Sun".

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