NASA Parker Solar Probe

Share

Dr Nicky Fox, the project scientist for NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission, was born and raised in Hitchin and went to school at St Francis' College in Letchworth. The Delta IV port and starboard booster engines shut down and separated, the main core booster engine cut off and then separated from the second stage.

"The key lies in its custom heat shield and an autonomous system that helps protect the mission from the Sun's intense light emission, but does allow the coronal material to "touch" the spacecraft", NASA said in a statement according to news agency ANI report.

As NASA launced "Parker Solar Probe", mankind's first mission to "touch" the Sun, it left us all wondering - how and why will it not melt? "I look forward to all that we will learn from the probe as it transmits information back to Earth on its journey to the sun's orbit". On its close approach, it will face temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The spacecraft is protected from melting during its close shave with the Sun by a heat shield just 4.5in (11.43cm) thick.

The spacecraft will transmit its first science observations in December, beginning a revolution in our understanding of the star that makes life on Earth possible.

As soon as this fall, the Parker probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, that was visible during last August's total solar eclipse.

Among the curiosities is the apparent mismatch between the temperature of the Sun's visible surface, which measures about 5,500 degrees Celsius and the hundreds of times higher temperature of the corona, which reaches temperatures of about 5,500,000 degrees Celsius. In the end, the energy of the Sun is weakening, creating the boundary where interstellar hydrogen accumulates at the border of the outgoing pressure caused by the energy of the solar wind. These are fundamental questions about the sun that researchers have been vying to answer ever since solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker first theorized solar wind 60 years ago in 1958.

"Wow, here we go".

This small instrument looking around the heat shield is a Faraday cup, and is a direct descendant of the first instrument to measure the existence of the supersonic solar wind expansion.

"Eight long years of hard work by countless engineers and scientists is finally paying off", the NASA website quoted Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The probe is set to make 24 passes through the corona, collecting data.

"Tested to withstand up to 1,650 degrees Celsius, the TPS can handle any heat the Sun can send its way, keeping nearly all instrumentation safe", said NASA. Among the puzzlers: Why is the corona hundreds of times hotter than the surface of the sun?

Share