Parker Solar Probe Ready for the Sun
The Parker Solar Probe will explore the surface of the Sun like never before. A team of scientists have been putting the spacecraft through its paces by blasting it with the heat from old IMAX cinema projectors.
The Parker Solar Probe – a new spacecraft that will get up close and personal with the Sun – has passed its final test and is ready to make the journey to our host star.
Scientists at the University of Michigan have been testing the endurance of one of its key pieces of equipment using an unusual method: blasting it with the heat and light of old IMAX projectors.
The Parker Solar Probe is a $1.5 billion NASA mission due to launch in summer 2018. Part of the mission will be to examine the powerful outbursts that occur on the surface of the Sun.
Read more about the Sun from BBC Sky at Night Magazine:
The Sun is a dynamic body, and outbursts of plasma known as coronal mass ejections can sometimes interfere with satellite electronics, GPS and radio communications on Earth.
Part of the Parker Solar Probe mission will be to gain a better understanding of these processes, enabling scientists on Earth to anticipate potential disruptions.
Read more: Parker Solar Probe
Fly Me to the Sun
Why more than 1 million people put their names on a mission to our nearest star
This summer, a nasa spacecraft will launch into space from the coast of Florida, headed for the sun. After making several flybys of Venus to slow itself down, the Parker Solar Probe will come within 4 million miles of the sun’s scorching surface, closer than any spacecraft in history.
Nasa is never one to miss an opportunity to drum up publicity for upcoming space missions, especially the less flashy ones. Sending something to study the star we see every day may sound less thrilling, for example, than launching a mission to find exoplanets around 200,000 stars. So in March, the space agency announced a little campaign to promote the Parker Solar Probe: Send us your names and we’ll put them on a microchip inside a spacecraft bound for the sun. (They even got Star Trek actor William Shatner to help promote it.)
The call for names, which closed at the end of last week, received more than 1.1 million submissions, according to a spokesperson at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed and built the Parker Solar Probe. On the surface, the campaign was little more than a quirky act to get the public interested in space exploration. But considered more deeply, it represents the human desire to find ways to outlive ourselves and our bodies, to be remembered once our time here on Earth is up.
Read More: Fly Me To The Sun
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