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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2018, 05:27 PM

5. It's scheduled to launch at 3:33AM on Saturday morning...

More from its NASA mission page:

Zooming through space in a highly elliptical orbit, Parker Solar Probe will reach speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour — fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in a second — setting the record for the fastest spacecraft in history. During its nominal mission lifetime of just under 7 years, Parker Solar Probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun — reaching within 3.8 million miles of the Sun’s surface at closest approach.

In an orbit this close to the Sun, the real challenge is to keep the spacecraft from burning up.

“NASA was planning to send a mission to the solar corona for decades, however, we did not have the technology that could protect a spacecraft and its instruments from the heat,” said Szabo. “Recent advances in materials science gave us the material to fashion a heat shield in front of the spacecraft not only to withstand the extreme heat of the Sun, but to remain cool on the backside.”

The heat shield is made of a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite foam material between two carbon fiber face sheets. While the Sun-facing side simmers at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, behind the shield the spacecraft will be a cozy 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

More


As an added attraction, it will use Venus for gravity assists 8 times during the mission. So we may see more images of our under-photographed, percolating neighbor. They have an animated GIF showing the spacecraft's trajectory and dance with Venus which can be played on from the page linked above, of which this is one frame:

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