NASA on Sunday launched a “dangerous” mission to get closer than it ever gotten before to the Sun, its corona and solar wind.
The mission called Parker Solar Probe (PSP), commenced after a 24-hour delay.
PSP is the only NASA mission, scientific probe to study the sun’s corona and solar wind.
The mission is named for Dr Eugene Parker, a physicist at the University of Chicago who proposed the existence of solar wind. It is the first NASA mission to be named for a living researcher.
This mission is the brainchild of Parker, who long ago predicted the turbulence of solar energy and its impact on our planet.
At a press conference last week, Parker said of his namesake mission: “I expect to find some surprises.”
It will be the fastest human-made object with speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour, able to survive million degree temperatures, orbiting the sun just 4 million miles from its surface, after a 90 million-mile trip, to get the first measurements of the sun’s energy.
The temperature near the sun’s corona can be viewed as an obstacle, according to Geoffrey Brown, a public affair officer with the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.
“The spacecraft must operate in the sun’s corona, where temperatures can reach millions of degrees,” Brown told ABC News via email.
“To protect itself, the spacecraft has a thermal protection system, or heat shield, that will provide a shadow in which the spacecraft will ‘hide’ to perform its scientific data gathering.
“The outer sun-facing side of the shield will reach 2,500 Fahrenheit at closest approach to the sun.”