NASA's mission to 'touch the sun' starts tomorrow

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's unique expertise in sun-viewing telescopes will be an integral part of the historic NASA Parker Solar Probe mission scheduled to launch August 11 to better understand how the Sun affects our solar system.

If everything goes as planned, the Parker Solar Probe will reach its first close point to the Sun this November, resulting in the first batch of data in December.

You might think you know the Sun: It looks quite unchanging. On Saturday, August 11, NASA will launch its Parker Solar Probe from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, NASA is scheduled to launch the Parker Solar Probe for a seven-year mission to study the thing at the center of life here on Earth: the sun.

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

"We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", said project scientist Nicky Fox from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

"It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for 4 years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind", Parker said earlier this week. It's expected to make the first Venus pass at the end of September. This according to Mr parker will be a great achievement among all missions conducted to the sun.

This is not the first mission to study the Sun, but none of the previous devices did not even come close to the source of light and heat so close - only 6 million kilometers. While the Sun-facing side simmers at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, behind the shield the spacecraft will be a cozy 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nasa aims to collect data about the highly magnetised corona.

This weekend, in the dark hours before dawn, NASA plans to send a spacecraft to touch the sun. So we'll launch from from Kennedy on Saturday (August 11) morning on our attractive Delta 4 Heavy. For seven years it will orbit at around 3.38 million miles from the star's surface, where temperatures reach 1,400C.

NASA detailed that the Sun has 99.8 percent of the mass of the Solar System, and that it is hard to reach it, because to do so it is necessary to use 55 times more energy used to go to Mars.

"We're going to explore unknown territory", said Marco Velli, a UCLA space physicist and the probe's observatory scientist.

"The sun is hot", said project manager Andrew Driesman.

Scientists want to learn about the solar wind which causes geomagnetic storms. Apart from Parker's photo and his research paper are more than 1 million names of space fans who submitted their named to Nasa this past spring. One set, called the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons, will scoop up particles to measure characteristics like their speed and temperature.

Vanessa Coleman

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