Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Nasa probe blasts off to the Sun after 60-year project

Nasa probe blasts off to the Sun after 60-year project

NASA has successfully launched a spacecraft destined to become the fastest man-made object ever as it gets closer to the sun than we've been before.

A triple-core Delta IV Heavy rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, momentarily turning night into day in a spectacle visible for miles along the Florida coast.

Passing within 3.8 million miles of the sun's visible surface - well within the shimmering halo of the outer atmosphere, or corona - the spacecraft's heat shield will endure 2,500-degree heating while whipping past the star at a record 430,000 mph, fast enough to fly from NY to Tokyo in less than a minute.

The launch was called off at the last minute on Saturday after a gaseous helium pressure red alarm emerged that the scientists did not have enough time to troubleshoot.

The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick.

It will make 24 passes through the corona during its seven-year mission.

Mankind's first mission to "touch" the Sun may have panned out differently had it not been for Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, whose intervention made it possible for a research paper proposing the existence of solar wind to get published 60 years ago.

NASA launched its Parker Solar Probe on Sunday morning.

Back in 1958, when the 31-year-old Parker suggested that the charged particles streamed continuously from the Sun and fill up the space, the scientific community refused to believe him.

DC Restaurants Taking Precautions for Weekend Rally
Coalition, comprised of 38 organizations and community groups, meets regularly to plan counter attacks to the white nationalists. The website for Unite the Right urges marchers to meet at a Virginia Metro station and ride public transportation into the city.

"Go, baby, go!" project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University shouted at liftoff.

From Earth, it is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) to the sun, and the Parker probe will be within 4 percent of that distance at its closest.

The probe is NASA's first to be named after a living person.

"The spacecraft must operate in the sun's corona, where temperatures can reach millions of degrees", Brown told ABC News via email. That will be seven times closer than previous spacecraft.

Zurbuchen considers the sun the most important star in our universe - it's ours, after all - and so this is one of NASA's big-time strategic missions.

NASA project manager Andy Driesman said: "We will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission".

According to Nasa, this will be the closest-ever observation of a star, travelling through the Sun's atmosphere, or "corona". "In fact, one of the key things about our early orbits is we're actually just at this sort of sweet spot. over the same area of the sun for many, many days, allowing us to do some really incredible science on our very first flyby".

"All I have to say is wow, here we go".

Scientists have devised ways to ensure the automated and unmanned probe does not melt in the extreme heat and radiation.

Like this: