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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Nasa reveals Mission to 'Touch the Sun' for Groundbreaking Parker Solar in 2018

Nasa reveals historic 2018 mission to 'touch the sun' in an attempt to predict devastating solar storms


Nasa is set to announce its ambitious plans to launch a probe mission directly into the atmosphere of the sun in a world first. Dubbed the Parker Solar Probe (PSP), the mission will launch a spacecraft from Earth in the summer of 2018. It will reach an orbit within four million miles (6.5 million km) of the sun and will measure activity at its outer surface, known as the 'corona'. The craft will collect vital information about the life of stars and their weather events, and will help scientists improve how we predict dangerous solar flares.
The spacecraft, dubbed the Parker Solar Probe,
will see a spacecraft launched from Earth in the summer of 2018,
to reach an orbit within four million miles (6.5 million km) of the sun's surface.
This will be seven times closer than any spacecraft that has ventured before it
Nasa announced its plans during a live stream event, which was held at the University of Chicago's William Eckhardt Research Centre Auditorium and broadcast on NasaTV. To start the event off, Professor Rocky Kolb, dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago, explained how the idea to study the sun up close was first explored at the University of Chicago in 1958. 'So many fundamental questions about solar wind remain unanswered,' he said. ‘We wanted to take the challenge of going to the worst thermal environment in the solar system - and surviving it,' added Dr Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 'We want to measure the environment there and find what the heating processes are that make the corona hot, and what processes accelerate the solar wind.'

Dr Zurbuchen then announced, live on air, that the probe - originally dubbed the Solar Probe Plus - was to be renamed the Parker Solar Probe after University of Chicago scientist Eugene Parker, who pioneered solar wind science. Dr Parker, who was also speaking at the event, responded: 'I am extremely honoured to be associated with this heroic space mission.' Dr Nicola Fox, mission project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, then took to the stage.

She said that until now, Nasa didn't have the advanced materials needed to make such a close trip to the sun's corona. She added that the corona is actually hotter than the sun's centre, and that finding out why is a key part of the probe mission. 'I like to think of this as the coolest, hottest mission,' she said. Dr Fox said that Dr Parker's original 1958 paper on solar winds will travel on the probe along with pictures of him and a plate with a comment of his choice. She presented Dr Parker with a model of the new probe to thank him for his work.
This image shows the planned route and flybys of the PSP craft on its six-year mission

She explained that Parker Solar Probe will gradually 'surf' closer and closer to the sun, into its corona. The craft will to withstand higher temperatures than any probe that has come before it. 'We will finally touch the sun,' she said. Answering questions from the audience, Dr Fox described some of the state-of-the-art equipment that the Parker Solar Probe will carry. The craft's kit includes a white light imager called Whisper, which will take images of solar waves as the craft propels through them at high speeds. To measure the 'bulk plasma' of solar winds - which Dr Fox described as the 'break and butter' of the flares - a set of magnetic imaging equipment will also be stored on board. To conclude the conference, Dr Fox added: 'We've really come as far as we can with looking at things and it's time to pay it a visit.'

While minor details of the groundbreaking mission had surfaced earlier this year, the agency's press event will reveal a host of new information about the mission. The spacecraft will swoop within 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of the sun's surface next year - bringing it seven times closer to the sun's surface than any spacecraft before it. The craft will face extremes in heat and radiation and will reach speeds of up to 450,000 miles per hour (725,000 kph) at its closest flyby of the star. It is hoped that PSP can help scientists to better understand solar flares - brief eruptions of intense high-energy radiation from the sun's surface that can knock out communications on Earth.

Sources : Daily Mail


Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:50 AM
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