NASA spacecraft set to "touch" the sun launches this Saturday

In Just One Week NASA Will Launch a Spacecraft to'Touch the Sun

An artist's depiction of the Parker Solar Probe at work in orbit around the sun Credit NASA John Hopkins APL

Designed at Johns Hopkins University, the Solar Parker Probe will depart on the 11th from Cape Canaveral (the main center of US space activities) on a mission that will last seven years and analyze the solar wind.

To hit the solar surface, a probe should accelerate to the same orbital velocity of the Earth around the Sun with 30 kilometers per second in the opposite direction, but the current rocket technology can only cover a third of that speed.

This means PSP will be able to fly through the star's scorching-hot atmosphere, according to NASA scientists.

To get to the sun, the probe must be launched with a massive rocket, so that it will be lifted quickly from Earth.

The probe "will travel through the sun's atmosphere, closer to its surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions - and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star", NASA said in a statement.

The space agency is preparing to get closer to the sun than any other mission in history.

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The spacecraft, which is about the size of a auto, will then loop around Venus before it makes its final run towards the giant fire ball. At less than 4 million miles away from the sun, the Parker Solar Probe will be inside the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, measuring and sampling particles right on site.

To survive temperatures of around 2,511 degrees Fahrenheit, the probe is fitted with a 4.5-inch thick, 8-foot diameter carbon shield, which keep the on-board instruments at a warm but safe 85 degrees.

Likewise, scientists hope the probe's small-scale, short-term analysis will improve space weather prediction models. The FIELDS instrument suite, a series of antennas and magnetometers, will measure shape and scale of the corona's electric and magnetic fields.

"We've spent all this time since then - 60 years - looking at the sun, looking at the corona from a great distance and trying to understand how they work", said McComas. In launch power, the Delta IV Heavy rocket is right after the new Falcon Heavy rocket - which is the most powerful rocket at the moment.

The mission will take off from Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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