NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to Explore Sun’s Atmosphere
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be launched in the summer of 2018 to explore the sun’s atmosphere. The purpose of the launch will be to study sun’s outer atmosphere and to understand how sun works. The name of the probe initially called the Solar Probe Plus has been renamed as the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living person.
Astrophysicist Eugene Parker published a research paper predicting the existence of solar wind in 1958. At that time, it was thought that the space between planets was a vacuum. Parker’s theory of solar wind was later on confirmed by satellite observations.
Solar wind is the flow of charged gases from the sun.
The 10-feet high Parker Solar Probe will fly within 6.4 million km of the sun’s surface right into the solar atmosphere. The probe will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation that has not experienced by any other man-made probes previously.
The objective of the mission will be to study sun in detail and shed light on Earth and its place in the solar system. The mission will work towards determining the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
This will be NASA’s first mission to the sun and its outermost atmosphere corona.
The mission is scheduled to end in June 2025.