NASA will launch a space probe to orbit the sun, set at a distance never before achieved, to study the solar activity that could potentially call into question life on Earth. The Solar Probe Plus mission will be 6.4 million kilometers from the solar surface, facing extremely high temperature and radiation conditions. Solar Probe Plus will be launched between July 31 and August 19 next year, 2018, of the Delta IV Heavy vehicle, the largest in operation.
This mission aims to obtain new data on solar activity and on new methods to predict major climatic events that may affect life on our planet. 150 million kilometers from the central star of the Solar System. Scientists have been trying to answer questions about the Sun for more than thirty years, and although this is a mission already planned by NASA since 2009, the mission has now become even more urgent, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, an event Solar that is not predicted can cause damages valued at 2 billion dollars in the United States and cut energy for a year on the east coast.
Daily we verified the power of the Sun, a star that “ate” about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Boreal auroras, for example, result from the interaction of the particles emitted by our star with the atmosphere. NASA will have to approach the Sun’s crown, the outermost layer of the star composed of plasma material (a gas with ionized particles) with 2 million degrees that is only seen from Earth in days of eclipse (that light that surrounds the disk Solar when it is hidden). This is because, first, this is a very unstable region of the Sun and needs to be studied at source. This is where solar winds, highly energetic particles and solar mass ejections that can reach Earth are produced. And lastly because there are millions of tons of magnetized material traveling at millions of miles per hour to us.
There is yet another strange phenomenon that no one can truly explain about the Sun, a star consisting essentially of hydrogen and helium, because the solar corona is much hotter than the photosphere, the star’s luminous surface, and how the solar winds Have become ever faster? Since October 24, 1954, at a rally of the National Academy of Sciences, these questions have entered the list of priority questions to be answered by astrophysicists. And the reason is this, 150 million kilometers from the Sun, the Earth still resides in the atmosphere of the star that illuminates and nourishes us. What happens in the solar corona will affect how solar activity will influence the environment and technological infrastructures of the Earth.
However, the scientific goals of the mission made official this week by NASA are even more specific. By completing three complete orbits into the Sun, the American space agency wants to know exactly the size of the outermost layers of the Sun, which are where activity is most intense and threatening to Earth. To be possible, the spacecraft will approach 3.9 million kilometers from the Sun at a speed of more than 724,000 kilometers per hour.
This project will be possible thanks to a probe named “Parker” in honor of Eugene Parker, a pioneering scientist in the study of solar winds. Parker will be seven times closer to the Sun than any other probe ever sent by a space agency to our star and nine times closer than Mercury is to the solar surface. To protect the probe from a never-before-seen list of high temperatures – 1377 ° C – and deadly radiations, Parker will use a carbon shield with 11.43 centimeters of thickness.
NASA has already prepared trip, Parker will leave Earth on July 31, 2018, in principle from Cape Canaveral. On September 28, 2018, the spacecraft should make the first of a total of seven passes through Venus. Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 1, Parker is expected to reach the minimum approach point to the Sun. The maximum approach to the star is only scheduled for December 19, 2024.
In total, Parker will complete 24 orbits over 7 years of mission and each orbit should last for 88 days.