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NASA Parker Solar Probe to launch from Cape Canaveral
11 August 2018, 05:41 | Ross Houston
NASA's Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the sun than any other man-made object
The 8-foot (2.4-meter) shield will face the sun during the close solar encounters, shading the science instruments in the back and keeping them humming at a cool 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).
On each close approach to the sun, the probe will sample the solar wind, study the sun's corona, and provide close-up observations from around the star.
Image: The spacecraft can withstand enormous heat.
The one-point-five billion dollar mission aims to discover why the corona, the sun's atmosphere., is so much hotter than it's surface, and also to investigate the cause of solar winds.
The probe will plunge through the sun's atmosphere, called the corona, to gather data to help us understand what part of the sun is providing the energy source for solar winds, solar particles and how they accelerate to such high speeds.
We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star.
Scientists expect the $1.5 billion mission to shed light not only on our own dynamic sun, but the billions of other yellow dwarf stars - and other types of stars - out there in the Milky Way and beyond.
"It can impact our technology, it disrupts our communications, it can knock out satellites, it creates a hazardous environment for astronauts, and it also can even impact our power grids here on Earth", NASA heliophysicist Alex Young said.
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This is the first-ever spacecraft to be named after someone still alive.
NASA says it's ready for a historic trip to the sun this weekend.
Parker, now retired from the University of Chicago, spent his career trying to understand the sun and the ways it affects the solar system.
The probe will blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37. Among other things, the spacecraft will carry a microchip with more than a million names on it.
You know something exciting is just around the bend, but where you're sitting you can't see what that is.
When the probe begins its final orbits it will be moving at approximately 430,000 miles per hour, according to NASA.
The spacecraft eventually will run out of fuel and, no longer be able to keep its heat shield pointed toward the Sun, will burn and break apart - except perhaps for the rugged heat shield.
A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Ultimately, the more we can learn about the Sun, the better.
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