NASA second attempt at solar probe launch

Spacecraft To'Touch Sun Blasts Off On Mission To Solve Solar Mysteries

NASA second attempt at solar probe launch

It is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million miles from the sun's surface.

NASA has successfully launched a spacecraft destined to become the fastest man-made object ever as it gets closer to the sun than we've been before.

As the Parker Solar Probe probe orbits the sun, it will experience extreme radiation and temperatures as high as 1,377C - close to the melting point of steel. The reason for the delay was not immediately clear, but was called for after a gaseous helium alarm was sounded in the last moments before liftoff, officials said.

The $1.5 billion craft will travel towards the centre of our solar system on a mission to discover more about unsafe solar storms.

NASA's first mission to the sun - will expolore the sun's atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona.

That's around 4 per cent of the distance between the earth and the sun.

These solar outbursts are poorly understood, but pack the potential to wipe out power to millions of people.

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But getting so close to the Sun requires slowing down - for which Parker will use the gravity of our neighbor planet, Venus . The current close-to-the-sun champ, NASA's former Helios 2, got within 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) in 1976.

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More knowledge of solar wind and space storms will also help protect future deep space explorers as they journey toward the Moon or Mars.

At those speeds, the spacecraft will reach the sun by November, and scientists hope to have early data back from the probe by the end of the year. We are ready. We have the flawless payload.

Eugene Parker is a University of Chicago professor emeritus in physics who first proposed the concept of the solar wind. Scientists aim to learn more about the mechanisms that power the solar wind of charged particles the sun sends into the solar system, creating aurorae on Earth and sometimes screwing with our tech.

Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but only in recent years did the heat shield technology advance enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments, according to Fox.

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

"We'll also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 690,000km/h (430,000mph) - NY to Tokyo in under a minute!" she told BBC News.

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