Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

NASA To Launch Mission To The Sun In 2018

NASA To Launch Mission To The Sun In 2018

Astronomers explained that this first mission to fly to the sun could not get to the very surface of the blazing star, but they hope to get the spacecraft close enough to gather data that can answer crucial questions regarding the host star of the solar system.

Slated to launch in 2018, NASA's Solar Probe Plus spacecraft will dive into sun's surface as close as 4 million miles and will face the heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it.

The source of the solar wind's speed is another puzzle NASA hopes the probe will answer. Moreover, scientists also want to analyze what fuels the solar winds. Until now, the closest spacecraft were Helios 1 (launched December 1974), which flew within 29 million miles (47 million km) of the sun, and Helios 2 (launched April 1976), which flew 1.8 million miles (3 million km) closer to the sun than Helios 1. But, the atmosphere above the surface of sun is a blistering 2 million degrees Celsius. However, unlike Icarus, who plunged to his death when the sun melted his wings, we need to be very careful in our endeavor.

Solar Probe Plus is an extraordinary and historic mission exploring arguably the last and most important region of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft to finally answer top-priority science goals for over five decades.

Researchers have tried to figure out these three enduring mysteries Christian said, but "the trouble is we're 93 million miles away, and things get smeared out in a way that makes it hard to tell what's happening at the sun".

"Without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the U.S. alone, and the eastern seaboard of the United States could be without power for a year", the Solar Probe Mission team informed. These particles are a danger to astronauts and spacecraft. Data will be key to understanding and, perhaps, forecasting space weather.

It will have a 11.4 centimetres carbon-composite shield that has been designed by NASA to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft of 1370 degrees Celsius.

The Solar Probe also carries many unique features such as special heat tubes which called as the thermal radiator and will help to radiate the heat which will not affect the heat-sensitive instruments. If these protections would work as intended, the instruments in the space probe will stay at room temperature. The probe will also be protected from radiation that could ruin the electrical circuits inside the probe.

Before the probe can answer some of the sun's mysteries, it will have to deal with its vast heat along with radiation, noted LiveScience.com The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has been collaborating with NASA to make sure the probe survives its close-up with the sun.

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