NASA reschedules flight to sun at 3:31 a.m

12 August, 2018, 11:09 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time

NASA early Saturday scrubbed its planned launch of humankind's first probe to the sun, planning to try again Sunday morning.

The probe won't actually land on the sun, but it will make history - getting closer than any other man-made object.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent to up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation on Earth.

The powerful Delta 4 Heavy and a solid-propellant upper stage will provide the energy needed to counteract Earth's 18-mile-per-second orbital velocity, allowing the Parker Solar Probe to fall into the inner solar system.

NASA says a red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, prompting the launch controller to order, "Hold, hold, hold". The forecast shows a 60 per cent chance of favourable weather conditions for the launch.

Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine".

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, one of the project scientists and a professor at the University of MI.

The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick.

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The probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around Sun.

Once on its way, the spacecraft will fly through 24 elliptical orbits around the sun, eventually passing within just 3.8 million miles of the star's visible surface, enduring temperatures of 2,500 degrees as its instruments collect data from the closest vantage point ever attempted.

At Parker Solar Probe's closest approach to the Sun, temperatures on the heat shield will reach almost 1,371 degrees Celsius, but the spacecraft and its instruments will be kept at a relatively comfortable temperature of about 29.4 degrees Celsius.

The probe will be controlled from the Mission Operations Centre based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL), which is where NASA handles its unmanned missions.

"We are ready. We have the ideal payload". Vindication came with NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft in 1962.

"With each orbit, we'll be seeing new regions of the Sun's atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we've wanted to explore for decades", Fox added.

"And last but not least, we have a white light imager that is taking images of the atmosphere right in front of the Sun".

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