Speechless is not a word typically used to describe Nicky Fox, mission scientist for the Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
And the mystery is profound. It has been outfitted with a heat shield created to keep its instruments at a tolerable 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) at its closest pass.
"I'm anticipating that the results will turn up basic information about why the corona of the Sun is at one million degrees". Parker Solar Probe and its instruments will be protected from the Sun's heat by a 4.5-inch-thick, carbon-carbon composite heat shield.
Scientists have two theories about what heats up the corona.
The delicate instrument comes equipped with an array of instruments and tools which will scan the Sun for solar winds and magnetic fields.
Weighing just 635 kgs, it is a relatively light spacecraft, Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the USA, said in an earlier statement. It's like water flowing uphill, it shouldn't happen. "We know the questions we want to answer".
The car-sized probe is created to give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.
The Delta 4 climbs away from pad 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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These events can affect satellites and astronauts as well as the Earth - including power grids and radiation exposure on airline flights, NASA said. "We're in for some learning over the next several years", said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.
"Wow, here we go!" "Why has it taken us 60 years?"
"Three, two, one, zero, and liftoff!"
NASA will, on Sunday have another go at launching their historic unmanned Parker Solar Probe.
"The outer sun-facing side of the shield will reach 2,500 Fahrenheit at closest approach to the sun". The upper stage then ignited for a short burn, supplying more than half of the probe's final velocity.
The probe will zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that. Seven Venus flybys are planned over the seven-year mission to fine-tune the trajectory, setting up the close-in aim points.
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.
"So we're already in a region of very, very interesting coronal area", Fox said. While granting us life, the sun also has the power to disrupt spacecraft in orbit, as well as communications and electronics on Earth.