May 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

NASA To Launch Parker Solar Probe Mission ‘Touch The Sun’ In 2018

May 31, 2017 07:16 PM EDT

NASA has recently announced its mission to launch a space probe into the sun’s atmosphere where the temperature reaches up to 500,000C. The mission to “touch the sun” is reported to involve the Parker Solar Probe, which is slated for launch in 2018.

According to CNN, the announced Solar Probe Plus mission by NASA involves a spacecraft to experience the heat and radiation of the sun directly unlike any spacecraft mission in history. The Parker Solar Probe is identified to orbit the sun’s surface within 4 million miles and is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2018.

"The Solar Probe Plus mission will explore the sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work. The resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space," NASA explained in a statement.

With that said, the initially called Solar Probe Plus mission was renamed to Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist and one of the pioneers of solar wind science, Eugene Parker. The Parker Solar Probe is also identified to be coated with a 4.5-inch coat of carbon-composite solar shields in order to aid it in withstanding the extreme heat and radiation of the sun as reported by Telegraph. 

Aside from that, the Parker Solar Probe is said to explore the sun’s outermost atmosphere called as the corona. The probe is also said to be equipped with a white light imager called Whisper and instruments that measure bulk plasma along with other magnetic measuring equipment. The Whisper is defined to photograph the solar waves of the sun while instruments that measure bulk plasma is said to identify details about the solar waves.

Furthermore, the last mission wherein a man-made spacecraft touched the sun was said to have occurred last 1972, which the spacecraft only reached 27 million miles. Nonetheless, NASA researchers and scientists expect that the success of the Parker Solar Probe will shed light on understanding and improve forecasts of major space weather events like solar winds thoroughly.

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