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profishingrods.com December 15, 2018


NASA counts down to launch of first spacecraft to 'touch Sun'

11 August 2018, 08:33 | Dale Webster

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

With this new launch, it will be the first mission that will be going to see the Sun's sizzling and hot atmosphere very close.

The reason for the delay was not immediately clear, but was called for after a gaseous helium alarm was sounded in the last moments before liftoff, officials said.

The Parker Solar Probe will become the fastest spacecraft ever.

As per the NASA, the 65-minute launch window would open at 3:30 am (0733 GMT), and the weather forecast is 70 per cent favourable to take off. There will be 24 orbits between Venus and the sun, with the final three putting Parker closest to the sun - just six million kilometres out - in 2024 and 2025.

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.

But these solar outbursts are poorly understood.

The probe is relying on a 4.5 inch carbon heat shield which has taken 10 years to develop and which is so strong it will survive for billions of years even when the rest of the spacecraft has disintegrated.

The spacecraft eventually will run out of fuel and, no longer able to keep its heat shield pointed toward the sun, will burn and break apart - except perhaps for the rugged heat shield. The spacecraft has solar shields to withstand atmospheric temperatures of around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.




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

The Parker Solar Probe will endure tremendous heat while zooming through the solar corona to study this outermost part of the stellar atmosphere that gives rise to the solar wind.

Following the launch the spacecraft will head towards Venus.

Parker will get almost seven times closer to the sun than previous spacecraft.

He added that he is "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine". "Sometimes you just see, like how over a lifetime, things just come together and create these incredible stories, these leaps going forward".

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.

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.



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