NASA's first mission to 'touch the sun'

NASA is now planning on sending a spacecraft to the only star in our solar system.

The mission, formerly known as Solar Probe Plus, is scheduled to launch during a 20 day window between 31 July 2018 and 19 August 2018.

The probe will orbit within 6.2 million kilometres of the Sun's surface and withstand temperatures of almost 1,377 degrees Celsius.

The mission holds claim to another first: the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living person. "Until we can explain what is going on up close to the sun, we will not be able to accurately predict space weather effects that can cause havoc on Earth", NASA explains on its website."Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we have puzzled over for more than six decades", said Dr. Fox.

The spacecraft will go close enough to the sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic, and it will fly though the birthplace of the highest-energy solar particles. NASA spacecraft have previously traveled inside the orbit of Mercury, the planet closest to the sun.

It will explore the sun's outer atmosphere where it will be protected from its intense power, 475 times what other spacecraft experience while orbiting Earth, by using a protective solar shadow shield. NASA also plans to install Thermal radiators.

NASA is set to announce a new mission to fly directly into the Sun's atmosphere. The tubes will radiate heat and protect the instruments inside the spacecraft. To avoid following the same fate of Icarus, the spacecraft will be covered by a almost 5-inch thick coat of carbon-composite solar shields.With this mission, NASA aims to obtain new insights into solar winds and space weather by collecting more precise data.

Several on-board instruments, including Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR), Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP), and electric and magnetic field suite called FIELDS and the EPI-Lo particle detector, will help NASA get the crucial data needed for scientific analysis.

The announcement will be made on a live webcast on NASA TV later on today.

  • Carolyn Briggs