NASA has announced that it’s embarking on humanity’s first mission to touch the sun. This will be achieved through an unmanned Parker Solar Probe that is expected to be launched next year, making the spacecraft the first to visit our nearest star. NASA also said that the probe will be made to travel through the atmosphere of the sun and make it get closer to the surface of the sun than any other spacecraft. The spacecraft will have to endure radiation conditions and brutal heat. However, NASA said that the motivation of this project is to get as closer as possible to the sun. For starters, the spacecraft that will explore the sun was recently put on display as Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland for the media to observe and ask questions. Other than exploring the outer atmosphere of the sun, these observations are likely to provide answers to questions that have been posed in regards to the sun and how other stars operate. NASA said that the project will cost them $1.6 billion. Despite the costs, the mission is likely to provide some forecasts about some weather phenomena and events that impact life in one way or the other. The life of the astronauts involved and those to come will also be changed.
According to NASA, weather events or space weather has the ability to influence several things. It has the ability to change the orbit that is taken by a satellite, interfere with their lifetime especially shortening them and interfere with onboard electronics. APL scientist and scholar Nicola Fox noted that the Parker Solar Probe will be crucial in providing answers about solar physics that humans have asked for over six decades. This mission involves the spacecraft getting close the sun’s atmosphere by 3.9 million miles. This sets the spacecraft on the orbit of Mercury. An aerospace engineer working on the project known as Betsy Congdon said that the project was first suggested in 1958. The fact that the project hasn’t been realized makes it one of the oldest projects by NASA. This project has been enabled by a cutting-edge thermal engineering development. As a result, there is a 4.5-inch thick carbon shield that is eight foot in diameter that is being used to protect the spacecraft and its instruments from the sun’s energy. This means that the spacecraft will have to endure temperatures of over 2,500 degrees F.