NASA probe to fly into sun's atmosphere

The Parker Solar Probe is set to orbit within 3.9 million miles of the sun's surface where temperatures exceed 2,500 Fahrenheit

NASA plans Wednesday announcement of mission to touch sun

Parker, who is days away from his 90th birthday, described the mission as "very exciting".

In an audacious foray into the glowing inferno of our sun's atmosphere, NASA's new solar probe will attempt to answer a simple question: How does a star work? To talk about this historic mission and what scientists may learn from it are Professor Rocky Kolb, dean of the division of the physical sciences and Eric Isaacs, the executive vice president for research, innovation and national laboratories at the University of Chicago.

The solar probe is set to launch in the summer of 2018 and its aim will be to better understand how stars work and answer questions like why the Sun's corona is hotter than its surface.

Image: Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun.

Marking the world's first probe to the Sun, the proposed mission is part of Nasa's Living With a Star (LWS) programme to explore aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.

As per the plan, the Parker Solar Probe will be employing a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

A team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab is already guiding a probe in the outer reaches of the solar system. While the surface of the sun is only 10,000 degrees, the corona itself is 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember the science fiction movie 'Sunshine' by Danny Boyle in which a crew of eight astronauts with a giant nuclear solar bomb take an impossible mission to the Sun to save it from dying? It won't make it to our star's surface, since there isn't one, but the probe will be created to get within 3.8 million miles of the sun. However, it received now a more distinguished name of Parker Solar Probe. NASA is paying about $1.5 billion to build and launch the spacecraft.

The solar probe plus will be now carrying some three other instruments as well suite which will be including the Solar Wind Plasma Suite and also the SWEAP which stands for Solar Wind electrons Alphas and also the Protons, investigation. I'm sure there will be some surprises. The solar astrophysicist was thrilled to make the announcement.

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