ibusinesslines.com
ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018


Spacewatch: Firing up for a close encounter with the sun

11 August 2018, 05:41 | Justin Tyler

Credit CBS3

Credit CBS3

NASA is preparing to launch its Parker Solar Probe in the early hours on Saturday morning.

The spacecraft will fly through the sun's corona multiple times to answer several questions, like why it is millions of degrees hotter than the surface of the sun itself.

With a carbon heat shield, the probe will travel to within six-point-one million kilometers of the sun's surface. The probe will use Venus' gravity to slow itself down as it makes its close approaches with the sun.

In order to combat the intense temperatures, the probe has been covered with a carbon composite coated ceramic capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,650C (3,002F).

Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 deg F (29 deg C).

The project, with a $1.5bn (€1.3bn) price tag, is the first major space mission under Nasa's "Living With a Star" programme.

"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is", said Nicola Fox, the project scientist at Johns Hopkins University.


"We are ready. We have the ideal payload".

The spacecraft will hit 6,90,000 kmph in the corona at closest approach.

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first, some people did not believe in his theory.

It's created to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that's capable of withstanding 1,370 degrees Celsius. It will hitch a ride into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, and an upper stage boost from the rocket will send it hurtling out of Earth's orbit and on a path to Venus, eventually moving at speeds up to 700,000 kmh (430,000 mph) - faster than any probe that came before it.

"The solar corona is one of the last places in the solar system where no spacecraft has visited before", Parker Solar Probe scientist Adam Szabo said in a statement.

"We will also be listening for plasma waves that we know flow around when particles move", Fox added.

When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - 700,000kmh - making it the fastest human-made object. "We're a technological society, so we have to understand this to better understand its impact and ultimately to be able to predict it just like we do weather on Earth".



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