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Thu Aug 9, 2018, 05:30 PM

A spacecraft to touch the sun

By Deborah Byrd in Human World | Space | August 9, 2018

Set to launch August 11, the daredevil Parker Solar Probe will get closer to the sun than any spacecraft in human history.

Spoiler ahead … Sci fi fans! Remember that great scene in Battlestar Galactica, when Anders took control of the abandoned fleet and piloted it into the sun? Recall it this weekend, as NASA launches its newest mission, the Parker Solar Probe. The craft is destined to go, if not directly into the sun, at least closer to our local star than any spacecraft before. On its seven-year mission, the craft will whip through the sun’s sizzling outer atmosphere, or corona, swooping to within 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of the sun’s surface. Set to launch on August 11, 2018, this craft will face heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Why won’t it melt? Explanation here.

Scientists hope that – if it does survive its fiery journey so close to our local star – the Parker Solar Probe’s instruments will provide data leading to better predictions of space weather, which begins at the sun and ultimately can wreak havoc on human technologies on Earth and in space. More about that below.

The scientists also hope the Parker Solar Probe will help them address fundamental questions about the sun’s dynamic and mysterious corona. More about that below, too.

The Parker Solar Probe – named for Eugene Parker, who first theorized that the sun constantly sends out a flow of particles and energy called the solar wind – will explore one of the last regions of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft.
more: http://earthsky.org/space/parker-solar-probe-launch-touch-the-sun

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