NASA begins countdown to launch of first spacecraft to ‘touch Sun’

NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time

NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time

NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, the size of a vehicle, aims to plunge into the Sun's sizzling atmosphere and become humanity's first mission to explore a star.

The Parker Solar Probe, humanity's first mission to explore a star, will also be the closest for a man-made object to approach the Sun.

It was Parker who accurately theorized 60 years ago the existence of solar wind - the supersonic stream of charged particles blasting off the sun and coursing through space, sometimes wreaking havoc on electrical systems on Earth.

NASA is poised to launch a $1.5 billion spacecraft on a brutally hot journey toward the Sun, offering scientists the closest-ever view of our unusual and mysterious star.

"So it's of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict this space weather much like we predict weather here on Earth".

NASA initially aimed to launch the Parker Solar Probe on July 31, but the agency and ULA repeatedly pushed the liftoff back to allow time to resolve issues with the mission's Delta IV Heavy booster. "Parker Solar Probe has been one of our most challenging missions to date". Why in this region does the solar atmosphere suddenly get so energized that it escapes from the hold of the sun and bathes all of the planets?

With one minute and 55 seconds left on the countdown timer, a launch controller ordered "Hold, hold, hold" when a pressure alarm sounded, showing that there was a fault with the Delta IV Heavy rocket's helium system.

"Wow, here we go".

This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living person. Each flyby will provide an orbit-shaping gravity boost, drawing it ever closer to the sun and straight into the corona - the sun's outermost atmosphere.

"In our very first flyby (of the sun), we get a little more than 15 million miles away from the sun's surface", Fox said. According to scientists, the shielding of the probe is heated to 1371,11°C.

The heat shield is made of a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite foam material between two carbon fibre face sheets.

You might think you know the Sun: It looks quite unchanging. In this Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, astrophysicist Eugene Parker attends a news conference about the Parker Solar Probe named after him, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But Earth's star has secrets that scientists have been trying to figure out for decades!

"We will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission".

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