Humanity's first flight to Sun set to launch in July: Nasa | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 09, 2018

Humanity's first flight to Sun set to launch in July: Nasa

Nasa's Parker Solar Probe - humanity's first mission to the Sun - is undergoing final preparations for its launch scheduled for July 31.

The spacecraft was flown by the US Air Force to Florida, where it will continue testing, and eventually undergo final assembly and mating to the third stage of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.

Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first mission to the Sun. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere - the corona - closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone.

While facing brutal heat and radiation, the mission will reveal fundamental science behind what drives the solar wind, the constant outpouring of material from the Sun that shapes planetary atmospheres and affects space weather near Earth.

For the next several months, the spacecraft will undergo comprehensive testing. Just prior to being fuelled, one of the most critical elements of the spacecraft, the thermal protection system (TPS), or heat shield, will be installed.

The TPS is the breakthrough technology that will allow Parker Solar Probe to survive the temperatures in the Sun's corona, just 9.8 million kilometres from the surface of our star.

Parker Solar Probe will be launched from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Throughout its seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars.

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