NASA Parker Solar Probe launches on mission to high-five the sun

NASA Parker Solar Probe launches on mission to high-five the sun

NASA Parker Solar Probe launches on mission to high-five the sun

To handle the heat it has been covered with a special 4.5 inch thick carbon-composite shield capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,650C.

The spacecraft, which will plunge into the sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield.

It will be flying at speeds of 430,000 miles per hour and endure temperatures of 1,300 degrees Celsius, moving as close as within 6.16 million km of the sun's boiling surface.

"This space weather has direct influence, not always positive, on our technology in space, our spacecraft, it disrupts our communications, it creates a hazardous environment for astronauts and in the most extreme cases can actually affect our power grids here on the Earth", said Alex Young, associate director of NASA's heliophysics program.

"Fly baby girl, fly!" project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University said in a tweet right before liftoff.

The delicate instrument comes equipped with an array of instruments and tools which will scan the Sun for solar winds and magnetic fields. "Even I still go, really?" It's going to make 24 orbits of the sun and will break speed records by travelling at 430,000 miles per hour. "We're in for some learning over the next several years".

He added: "It's a whole new phase and it's gonna be fascinating throughout.and we're just waiting for the data now so the experts can get busy because there's a lot of data will be coming in".

Spectators lined roads and riverbanks overlooking Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to witness the fiery 3.31am (EST) departure of a $1.5 billion mission that has been developed over six decades.

The central core booster continued firing for another minute and a half before it, too, shut down and fell away from the fast-moving second stage.

That's where it will encounter temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Parker Solar Probe rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Nasa has launched a probe that will head closer to the sun than any other spacecraft before it. The spacecraft will also be prepared for the first of seven planned Venus flybys scheduled for October 2.

"This mission truly marks humanity's first visit to a star", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

"So we're already in a region of very, very interesting coronal area", Fox said.

NASA hopes the probe - which was named in honor of Dr. Eugene Parker, a University of Chicago professor who successfully predicted the existence of solar wind in 1958 - will help scientists crack some of the sun's greatest mysteries, including the secret of the corona's incredibly high temperatures and the origins of and the mechanism behind the acceleration of solar wind.

To "touch" the sun, the spacecraft will make a swing by Venus to shed some of its sideways momentum, allowing it to take a more straight shot toward the center of the solar system.

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