NASA to send solar probe closer to sun than ever before

NASA to send solar probe closer to sun than ever before

The probe's mission is to dip into the solar atmosphere and deduce how the rarefied gasses there are heated to millions of degrees centigrade when the solar surface itself is just 6,000°C.

United Launch Alliance is preparing to launch a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Saturday morning.

After it launches, the probe will travel at a record-breaking 430,000 miles per hour, the fastest speed ever achieved by a spacecraft.

The Parker Solar Probe, named for the scientist who first theorized about the existence of solar winds, is expected to get as close as we've ever been to our local star. This will place the probe just 3.8 million miles from the Sun's surface - seven times closer to the star than any craft that came before it, according to NASA.

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"With each orbit, we'll be seeing new regions of the sun's atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we've wanted to explore for decades".

The probe will conduct 24 orbits to approach the sun.

Earth, and all the other objects in the Solar System are constantly plowing through what is known as the solar wind - a constant stream of high-energy particles, mostly protons and electrons, hurled into space by The Sun. If we're able to learn more about its origin and behavior, it might be possible to predict when space weather might occur. These disturbances can also create complications as we attempt to send astronauts and spacecraft farther away from the Earth. The spacecraft and its suite of delicate instruments will be protected from the sun's extreme heat by a carbon fiber heat shield.

NASA says it's ready for a historic trip to the sun this weekend.

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