NASA satellite to get up-close look at the sun
USA TODAY LAUREL, MD. NASA’s on a mission to “touch” the sun.
The unmanned Parker Solar Probe, which is planned for liftoff next year, will be mankind’s first-ever visit to our nearest star.
The probe “will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to its surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star,” NASA said in a statement.
The spacecraft, which was recently on display for media at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make observations that will answer questions about the physics of how stars work.
The $1.6 billion mission aims to improve forecasts of major space weather events that affect life on Earth, as well as astronauts in space, NASA said. Space weather can also change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes or interfere with onboard electronics.
The probe will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to the star.