NASA satel­lite to get up-close look at the sun

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

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.

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