Launch of NASA's Parker Solar Probe a success — LIFT OFF

13 August, 2018, 04:09 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • NASA blasts off historic probe to ‘touch Sun’

A triple-core Delta IV Heavy rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, momentarily turning night into day in a spectacle visible for miles along the Florida coast.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket thundered into the pre-dawn darkness, thrilling onlookers for miles around as it climbed through a clear, star-studded sky.

The probe will set earth-shattering records, getting seven times closer to the sun than ever before and eventually travelling at a speed of 430,000 miles per hour. NASA needed the mighty 23-story rocket, plus a third stage, to get the diminutive Parker probe - the size of a small vehicle and well under a ton - racing toward the sun. Now, with the help of cutting-edge thermal technology that can protect the mission on its risky journey, the spacecraft's four instrument suites will study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind.

Scientists hope to shed light on the workings of our closest star - including the dynamics of the solar wind of electrically charged particles, and the reason why the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is hundreds of times hotter than the sun's surface.

Weighing just 635 kgs, it is a relatively light spacecraft, Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the United States, said in an earlier statement. It is the first mission ever to attempt to touch the sun.

Nasa has launched a probe that will head closer to the sun than any other spacecraft before it.

A highly advanced heat shield just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick was devised to keep the probe from melting.

"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.


"Chandra, as he was popularly known, is another astrophysicist with his name tagged to a space mission, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory", Nandi said. That will set up the first solar encounter in November.

"The outer sun-facing side of the shield will reach 2,500 Fahrenheit at closest approach to the sun".

These solar outbursts are poorly understood, but have the potential to wipe out power to millions of people.

The second is how does a solar wind start?

A Nasa handout photo shows an artist's impression of the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) approaching the Sun.

"All I can say is, wow, here we go, we're in for some learning over the next several years", University of Chicago solar physicist Eugene Parker said just after liftoff.

It is said the data gathered by the car-sized probe will "revolutionise" our understanding of the star, which has a huge impact on Earth.

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