Last-minute technical problem delays NASA's flight to sun
Last-minute technical problem delays NASA's flight to sun
NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time
12 August, 2018, 23:45
On board the Delta IV Heavy rocket is the Parker Solar Probe on its first mission to the sun.
Saturday morning's launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was scrubbed a minute and 55 seconds before blast-off after a gaseous helium alarm went off.
NASA and rocket-builder United Launch Alliance plan to make another attempt to get the long-awaited mission off the ground Sunday at 3:31 a.m. EDT (GMT-4), the opening of a 65-minute window, assuming the problem is corrected by then.
The Parker Solar Probe will fly to the sun to collect data from inside the solar atmosphere. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before. Eugene Parker predicted the existence of solar wind 60 years ago.
"Parker Solar Probe will carry four instrument suites created to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind".
The probe is armed with a high-powered heat shield that is 11.43 centimeters (4.5 inches) thick.
The corona is not only 300 times hotter than the sun's surface but it also discharges powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms that can wreak havoc on Earth by disrupting power grids.
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A $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere within 6.4 million km of the enormous hot star repeatedly, gathering key insights about solar structure, activity, atmosphere, solar winds and other features.
Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nicky Fox, a project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, said: "The sun is full of mysteries". "We know the questions we want to answer.".
The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. The launch window for the mission now closes on August 23.
"Parker Solar Probe uses Venus to adjust its course and slow down in order to put the spacecraft on the best trajectory", said Driesman. When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 688,000kmh - making it the fastest human-made object.
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