Lift-Off! NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe To 'Touch The Sun'

Parker Solar Probe

The Parker Solar Probe is now racing through space on a path that will eventually bring it within 4 million miles of the sun's surface.

More knowledge of solar wind and space storms will also help protect future deep space explorers as they journey toward the Moon or Mars.

"We've accomplished something that decades ago, lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction", he added, describing the probe as one of NASA's "strategically important" missions. With the new probe, NASA is aiming to collect data on corona and its solar winds in order to help understand and predict how it will be further affecting the earth's space environment.

Liftoff of the United States dollars 1.5 billion mission took place from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the USA at 3:31 am EDT (1:01 pm Indian Standard Time).

Named after Eugene Parker, the solar astrophysicist who first proposed the theory of solar wind in the mid-1950s, this is the first NASA mission named after a living person.

"We've had to wait so long for our technology to catch up to our dreams", said project scientist Nicola Fox of John Hopkins University.

The probe will make its closest approach in 2024 when the next total solar eclipse is expected to be seen over the US, and with that, the spacecraft will be visible. NASA's probe will pass by Venus a total of seven times (starting in early October) as it uses the planet's gravity to whip itself ever closer to the star.

An artist's depiction of the Parker Solar Probe at work around the sun. These findings, in turn, could serve a practical goal by helping space agencies anticipate and protect against solar flares that can disrupt satellites and electrical grids on Earth.

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"The mission is slated for a seven-year primary mission", Brown said.

NASA chief of the science mission directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, said on Saturday that Parker is an "incredible hero of our scientific community", and called the probe one of NASA most "strategically important" missions. The probe's 4.5-inch-thick, 8-foot-wide carbon-composite shield has been built to endure temperatures of up than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

From Earth, it is 93 million miles to the sun (150 million kilometres), and the Parker probe will be within four percent of that distance. It remains unknown how these electrically charged particles pick up speed.

In particular, scientists hope it will provide information about solar winds and solar energy particles.

The probe lifted off at 3:31 a.m. The station gets closer to the sun than any other manmade object.

The University of Chicago professor said he had been biting his nails in anticipation. "Parker Solar Probe will enable groundbreaking research, making space a safer to be".

"At this point, spacecraft is up and happy", said a spokesman with United Launch Alliance, the company that operates the rocket. On its very first brush with the sun, it will come within 15.5 million miles (25 million kilometers), easily beating the current record of 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by NASA's Helios 2 spacecraft in 1976.

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