NASA is all set to send a robotic spacecraft to the Sun to prepare for a massive solar event that can wreak havoc on Earth. The spacecraft is named "Solar Probe Plus" and will be launched next year.
According to The Sun, the "Solar Probe Plus" will come within four million miles of the sun's surface. It will be enduring the heat and flare unlike no other spacecraft has experienced before. The scientists are expecting it to reveal the secrets of the sun's corona, the massive hole present in the heart of the star. The corona is believed to be unstable and cooler than the sun's atmosphere and is a prime spot for producing destructive solar wind, flares and "ejections" that can affect the Earth's atmosphere.
Scientists have spent almost half a decade for understanding how the abysmal space weather can affect life on earth. In their opinion, this mission will be a great help in understanding the possible threats and getting prepared for it. A recent study by the National academy of Sciences has revealed that a massive solar event can cause a damage of two trillion dollars to the U.S and that too without any advance warning. The damage can be telling that the eastern seaboard can be without power for a year.
According to the Mirror, the main objective of "Solar Probe Plus" is to gather data that will help scientists to forecast main weather events in the space that can affect the earth. The "Solar Probe Plus" will be using seven flybys of Venus to gradually get close to the sun through its orbit. The "Solar Probe Plus" is will travel at a speed of 450000 miles (725000 km) when it's closest to the sun. The instruments inside space probe will have a 4.5 inch (11.43 cm) thick carbon composite shield protecting them from solar radiation, withstanding the temperature of nearly 2500 degrees Fahrenheit (1377 degrees Celcius).
The "Solar Probe Plus" will commence its voyage between 31st July and 18th August 2018. It is a joint effort of NASA with John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The mission is set to last six years and 11 months.
Till date, the Helios 2 spacecraft holds the record of traveling closest to the sun. It was launched in January 1976 and went to within 26 million miles (43 million km) of the sun.