An artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe nearing the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe will embark on a almost seven-year venture, becoming the first spacecraft to have a direct encounter with a star.
The Parker Solar Probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will, as the USA space agency describes it, "touch the sun" as it flies within 3.9 million miles of the star's surface.
At its closest approach, the probe will be just 3.8 million miles above the sun's surface.
"Since Parker Solar Probe will skim through the sun's atmosphere, it only needs to drop 53,000 miles per hour of sideways motion to reach its destination, but that's no easy feat", NASA notes. "We're actually making our first pass of the sun in November, getting our first data back by hopefully December", he said. And as it draws near, the spacecraft will be accelerated by our star's intense gravity to a stupendous speed - estimated to be 430,000 miles per hour.That will make the probe the fastest human-made object, eclipsing the twin Helios probes that zoomed along at 157,000 miles per hour on their sun-circling trajectories.
The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. IANS
In order to combat the intense temperatures, the probe has been covered with a carbon composite coated ceramic capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,650C (3,002F).
The spacecraft is named for Eugene Parker, the scientist who first predicted the existence of the solar wind - fast-moving solar particles that stream through the entire solar system.
This is a phenomenon that has baffled NASA scientists because the sun's atmosphere "gets much, much hotter the farther it stretches from the sun's blazing surface".
Understanding more about solar activity could help scientists forecast the large eruptions from the sun that pose a threat to satellite and communications systems.
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