Monday, August 13, 2018

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Blasts Off on Mission to the Sun

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


  On Sunday August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT, NASA"s Parker Solar Probe began its journey for a rendezvous with the Sun. Carried by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, the probe was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
  “It was a very quiet launch countdown, it went off like clockwork,” said Omar Baez, NASA Launch Director. “Parker Solar Probe has been one of our most challenging missions to date. I’m very proud of the team that worked to make this happen. We at NASA and the Launch Services Program are thrilled to be part of this mission.”
  The Parker Solar Probe's mission is to ultimately 'touch' the sun. Using gravity assists from Venus seven times over nearly seven years, the probe will gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun. The goal is to get the probe to fly directly through the Sun's atmosphere, breezing by 6.1 million kilometres (3.8 million miles) from the surface.
  Facing brutal heat and radiation, the spacecraft will fly close enough to witness the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic speeds and observe their birth. This will only be possible thanks to the probe's 4.5-inch-thick, carbon-carbon composite heat shield. The front surface of the probe will be able to withstand temperatures of up to 1350 °C  (2500 °F) while the back and insides will be withstand up to 350 °C (650 °F).

Image: Long exposure view of the rocket streaking through a thick cloud layer during the ascent into space via NASA/Bill Ingalls

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