NASA Parker Solar Probe delays mission to explore the sun

James Marshall
August 12, 2018

Its mission is to help scientists unlock the mysteries of the sun's atmosphere and answer questions like why its corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, is hotter than its surface.

"This morning's launch of @NASASun's #ParkerSolarProbe was scrubbed". Eugene Parker predicted the existence of solar wind 60 years ago. There is a 60-percent chance of good weather for a Sunday launch, according to ULA.

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.

Weighing just 635 kgs, it is a relatively light spacecraft, said Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US. When it runs out of fuel, it will stay in the sun's orbit in perpetuity.

When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object.

The probe won't actually land on the sun, but it will make history - getting closer than any other man-made object.

Parker Solar Probe launch delayed until Sunday
NASA delays launch of first ever solar probe | TheHill

"We will also be listening for plasma waves that we know flow around when particles move", Fox added.

The Parker Solar Probe was to touch our hot star with its lift off scheduled for August 11 from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It's the first time NASA mission has been named after a living person.

The probe is going to fly directly into the sun's atmosphere and trace the movement of energy and heat with the particles that form solar winds.

In an orbit this close to the Sun, the real challenge is to keep the spacecraft from burning up. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time this evening to go troubleshoot that and try again for a launch.

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

But then, the launch of NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft in 1962 - becoming the first robotic spacecraft to make a successful planetary encounter - proved them wrong.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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