NASA probe begins journey to the Sun

NASA’s newest research probe Parker Solar Probe starts on Saturday a trip to the Sun, the device is to unravel the mysteries of the star and deliver to it a chip with the names of 1.1 million earthlings, reported in NASA.

The launch of the device will be carried out by the carrier rocket Delta IV Heavy, owned by United Launch Allaince (ULA). Its launch from the cosmodrome at Cape Canaveral (Florida) is scheduled for 10.33 Moscow time (03.33 on the time of the East Coast of the United States) on Saturday. As the company announced on the eve of the launch, the probability that the weather may interfere with the launch is 30%.

Let’s see what lies ahead

The Parker Solar Probe is named after the astrophysicist Eugene Parker, a plasma physics researcher and creator of the term “solar wind”. The agency first named the spacecraft in honor of the living person – Parker today is an honorary professor at the University of Chicago.

In March of this year, NASA announced that within seven weeks anyone can enter his name on a special microchip that will fly to the Sun on the probe “Parker”. During this period, 1 million 137 thousand 202 names were collected. The chip with them was placed on a plate with the name of Eugene Parker and his quote: “Let’s see what lies ahead.” In addition to the names of earthlings, the memory card contains photographs of the professor and his scientific publication in 1958, in which he described and substantiated the phenomenon of “solar wind”.

NASA hopes that the probe “will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, the only star we can learn from a close distance.” “This mission will make one of the most extreme exploratory journeys ever undertaken by a man-made device, he still carries with him the names of so many people who will cheer him on this journey,” said the scientific leader of the mission, Nikola Fox, in connection with the upcoming launch. .

The fastest and closest to the Sun: 24/7

A probe the size of a small car weighing less than 700 kilograms should approach the Sun at a record distance of 3.8 million miles (6.1 million kilometers) from the surface of the star.

“We’ll head to the place where the space ships have never risked to go – to the crown of our star,” notes Fox. “With each orbit of the orbit, we will see new areas of the solar atmosphere and learn new things about stellar mechanics, which we wanted to study for decades,” the scientist notes.

The probe will move along a highly elliptical orbit, which will reach a speed close to 700 thousand kilometers per hour. For comparison, with this speed, you can fly from New York to Tokyo in less than two minutes. If the mission is successful, Parker will become “the fastest spacecraft in history,” NASA notes.

The mission of “Parker” is designed for seven years, for which he will make 24 turns around the Sun. Correct the orbit of the device, the mission leaders will be using the planet Venus, hitting the “Parker” in the zone of its gravity will allow to correct the flight path and reduce the speed of the space traveler. It is planned that during the mission the probe will make seven encounters with Venus.

One of the main difficulties for NASA in creating “Parker” was how to protect the probe from the heat of the Star and radiation. When approaching the surface of the Sun, the probe will experience a temperature in excess of 1370 degrees Celsius, while its thermal shield should keep the temperature inside the probe no higher than 29.5 degrees.

If everything goes according to plan, the first rapprochement of “Parker” with the Sun should take place in November 2018, and a month later he must transfer the first data to Earth.