NASA is sending a probe to the Sun in 2018 to study solar storms. It will be the first mission to enter the Sun’s atmosphere.
Already in countdown to the launch, which is scheduled for July 31 next year, NASA’s solar probe Parker has just received one of its crucial components, the most sophisticated thermal shield ever, and is now in the final stages of testing, which are decisive for the success of their daring mission. That is, fears nothing, then getting as close to the Sun as possible.
The Parker probe, named after the physicist Eugene Parker of the University of Chicago, who in 1958 predicted the existence of the solar wind. This will be, if everything goes as planned, the land ship that will arrive where no other arrived. A little less than six million kilometers from the Sun – 5,9 million kilometers, more precisely. That is, in the middle of the solar wind, the stream of particles emanating from the star, which then spread throughout the solar system.
The main objective of this mission is to study the properties of the solar wind and for this the instruments on board the probe is protected by heat shield 11 centimeters thick, made of a new carbon-based composite. Without this, at the nearest passage of the star (such 5.9 million kilometers, which is 25 times less than the Earth’s distance from the Sun), the probe and its instruments could not withstand the high temperatures that, in that region of the star reach 1377 degree Celsius.
So, for the first time, a probe will enter the atmosphere of the Sun, the so-called solar corona, which is made up of a plasma, a solar wind made of particles, to carry out its study near the origin. With this, scientists hope to obtain new data on processes that heat the solar corona and accelerate the solar wind.
After launching in 2018, the probe, which was developed and built at John Hopkins University in the United States, is expected to enter orbit in 2024 after a slow and gradual approach. It is expected to complete at least three orbits around the star.