Voy­ages in space

Hertfordshire Life - - COUNTY LIFE -

Hert­ford­shire is lead­ing the way when it comes to space ex­plo­ration with close in­volve­ment in a probe go­ing closer to the Sun than ever be­fore and a rev­o­lu­tion­ary satel­lite to im­prove weather fore­cast­ing.

NASA’s Parker So­lar Probe mis­sion has been spear­headed by Dr Nicky Fox of Hitchin. Now based at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity Ap­plied Physics Lab­o­ra­tory in Mary­land, she said the goal of the project is ‘to touch the sun’.

The probe, launched on Au­gust 12, will make 24 or­bits of the sun be­fore en­ter­ing its at­mos­phere to send back data that will help sci­en­tists un­lock the mys­ter­ies of the corona. It will travel at 430,000 mph – that’s New York to Tokyo in un­der a minute – mak­ing the car-sized probe (pic­tured above with the project team) the fastest man-made ob­ject in his­tory.

In a sep­a­rate mis­sion, a wind-sens­ing laser satel­lite built by Air­bus De­fence and Space in Steve­nage for the Euro­pean Space Agency has been launched. Data col­lected by Ae­o­lus, which will or­bit Earth 15 times a day, will pro­vide re­li­able world­wide wind-pro­file data in near real-time, im­prov­ing the ac­cu­racy of weather fore­casts and help­ing cli­ma­tol­o­gists bet­ter un­der­stand the global dy­nam­ics of our at­mos­phere.

Fi­nally, if you fancy play­ing a role in the mis­sion to send the Steve­nage-built Air­bus rover to find life on Mars in 2020, the UK Space Agency is run­ning a com­pe­ti­tion to name it. En­ter on­line at the al­most-as-hard-to-reach-as-Mars web­page: events.air­bus.com/ereg/newreg.php?even­tid=200179103&

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