NASA has made an attempt to study the Sun and its surroundings by launching the Parker Solar Probe. NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
Parker Solar Probe:
- Launch Site: Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 3:45 am EDT.
- Launch Vehicle: Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage.
Our home star The Sun is one among the small stars existing in the universe. To study the Sun, NASA is going to do an (obviously unmanned) mission. The probe will come within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface (for reference, we’re about 92 million miles from the sun here on Earth). “This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades.” The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) will get closer than any other spacecraft before. The main topic on which it is going to research are – 1) Why the sun’s outermost layer: the corona is much more hotter than the inner photosphere. 2) How does the solar wind gets accelerated? In order to do this PSP will use Venus’s gravity to flyby 7 times in a course of 7 years to gradually bring it closer to the sun. It will approach the sun and as the temperature gets too hot it will come back a bit to cool down the system within it. After that, it will again shoot towards the sun at a whopping speed of 700,000 KPH (just 0.23% the speed of light). At closest approach to the Sun, the front of Parker Solar Probe’s solar shield faces temperatures approaching 2,500 F (1,377 C). The spacecraft’s payload will be near room temperature. It will achieve this by using a heat shield made by sandwiching carbon.
Why study The Sun:
- It is the only star near to us, so studying it will give us an idea about the other stars in the universe.
- The Sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
- The Sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the Sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
- It will help us understand how matter interacts at high temperatures.
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