The mission will launch during a 20-day window that opens on July 31, 2018, and is part of NASA's "Living With a Star" program, which is created to study the sun and its interactions with Earth and the broader solar system. Yet due to the high temperatures of the sun's surface, about 1,370 degrees celsius, this time no human will be able to travel inside the spacecraft."I like to call it the coolest, hottest mission under the sun", said NASA scientist Nicola Fox.
The Parker Solar Probe, renamed in Eugene Parker's honor, will carry a photo of the famed solar astrophysicist, a copy of his solar wind paper and an inscription of his choosing. The Parker Solar Probe, named after a famous astrophysicist, will analyse the Sun's atmosphere, mainly to understand the mechanics of the solar wind which he had discovered.
Scientists know solar storms can disrupt telecommunications satellites and power grids here on Earth, and the sun's activity can affect our weather and future manned space missions. Parker believed there was highly energized matter and radiation constantly escaping the sun, and that it affected the planets and space throughout our solar system.
In 1958, Parker, then a young professor at the university's Enrico Fermi Institute, published an article in the Astrophysical Journal.
This phenomenon has been proven to exist repeatedly through direct observation and it was named as the Solar Wind. Parker's work now serves as basis for much about current understanding on how stars interact with the worlds orbiting them.
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"Why is the corona hotter than the surface of the sun?"
Parker, who is days away from his 90th birthday, described the mission as "very exciting". To avoid following the same fate of Icarus, the spacecraft will be covered by a almost 5-inch thick coat of carbon-composite solar shields.With this mission, NASA aims to obtain new insights into solar winds and space weather by collecting more precise data. During its journey, the spacecraft will make a total of 24 increasingly close flybys of the sun, inching closer until it reaches its closest distance, which will be about 3.9 million miles.
In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars, including our Sun, give off energy.
First announced in 2008, the robotic spacecraft will orbit within four million miles of the sun's surface. Soon, we may find out why.