In the summer of 2018, the Parker Solar Probe lift off from the Earth. It will spend the next seven years spiraling inward to the center of the Solar System.
The Solar Parker Probe will be the first spacecraft to touch a star. Or any star. It will brush through The Corona that is the halo of hot gases that form the outer atmosphere of the sun.
The Surface of the Sun looks placid to our eyes, but it is pierced and rolled by strong magnetic fields. Scientists don't understand how the Corona works or why it is hundreds of times hotter than the surface of the sun.
The Parker Probe will pass closer to the Ball of Fire than any mission that has been before it. To get that close, the spacecraft will make seven flybys of Venus over Seven Years, Gradually tightening its elliptical orbit and shifting it closer and closer to the sun.
How will the probe protect itself?
The Probe is provided with a high-tech heat shield that will protect it from the punishing radiation and heat of the Corona. Within the shield's shadow, the instruments of the spacecraft will operate at a comfortable room temperature.
As the probe passes close to the sun, it will briefly become the fastest machine that has ever been built by humans, zipping along at a brisk 4,30,000 miles per hour. The Parker Probe is the first NASA Spacecraft that has its origins named after a living person.
The video then talks about Eugene Parker who is an Astrophysicist at the University of Chicago.
In 1958, Eugene Parker suggested that the sun radiates a constant and intense stream of charged particles what he referred to as the solar wind. It is this wind that pushed out comet tails and makes the long streamers seen in solar eclipses.
With the Parker Solar Probe, Scientists hope to gain more insight into the sun's turbulent Corona. How it accelerates particles, and how it further flings huge clouds of fiery gas outward across space.
Huge waves of magnetized gas are called Coronal Mass Ejections. If our home planet gets in the way of one of these storms, it could turn out to be bad news. Our planet is protected by its very own magnetic field, but a direct hit from one of these galloping clouds of particles and radiation could disrupt satellites and force the astronauts in the space station to take shelter.
In 1859, a powerful storm called the Carrington Event produced auroras of great size. A Solar storm of that size today around the world could cripple satellites as well as power grids. If successful, The Parker Probe's mission to touch the sun may explain how the storm forms. Scientists hope it might teach us how to predict Coronal Outbursts more accurately and learn to further endure them.
We have always depended on the kindness of a star, here on a planet riding the gentle fringe of barely calculable forces, Living with a star is not easy. But we are learning, and that is important.
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How NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Will Touch the Sun | NYT - Out There:
Video Source: The New York Times