Monday, 19 November, 2018

Nasa launches Parker Solar Probe, mankinds first mission to touch the Sun

NASA's First Ever Parker Solar Probe Mission to Touch The Sun Launches in Second Attempt NASA Flickr
Cary Marshall | 14 August, 2018, 00:13

Liftoff took place from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the United States early on Sunday.

It's on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun's surface.

It will be the fastest human-made object with speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour, able to survive million degree temperatures, orbiting the sun just 4 million miles from its surface, after a 90 million-mile trip, to get the first measurements of the sun's energy.

The Parker Solar Probe's departure promises to set a plethora of records, including speediest spacecraft, highest velocity while leaving Earth and closest solar approach.

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 miles per hour.

A last-minute technical problem delayed the rocket's planned Saturday launch, with the countdown halted with just one minute, 55 seconds remaining.

"Of the mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA's Parker Solar Probe, a daring mission to shed light on the mysteries of our closest star, the Sun", said the narrator on NASA TV. This followed earlier trouble in the countdown.

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NASA on Sunday launched the Parker Solar Probe - the space agency's first mission to the sun - that will explore the sun's atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona.

Weighing just 635 kgs, it is a relatively light spacecraft, Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the U.S., said in an earlier statement.

The car-sized probe is created to give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid. This first flyby will place Parker Solar Probe in position in early November to fly as close as 15 million miles from the Sun - within the blazing solar atmosphere, known as the corona - closer than anything made by humanity has ever gone before. It is the first mission ever to attempt to touch the sun.

At closest approach to the sun, the front of PSP's solar shield faces temperatures approaching 2,500 degrees F. The spacecraft's payload will be near room temperature.

Main objectives of Parker Solar Probe?

It has been outfitted with a heat shield created to keep its instruments at a tolerable 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) at its closest pass.

Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine". "We're in for some learning over the next several years", he said as he watched the lift-off.

Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but only in recent years did the heat shield technology advance enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments, according to Fox. It could be due to interactions between electrically charged particles and the sun's powerful magnetic field, or it could be the result of countless "nanoflares" governed by another mechanism.

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