On August 12, 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe to study the Sun like never before. It's hurtling toward the star at the center of our solar system at 120 miles per second, making it the fastest human-made object ever. The heat shield on the front of the probe will withstand temperatures of about 2500 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the instruments at roughly room temperature. The probe will study solar wind, coronal mass ejections, and why the Sun’s atmosphere is unexpectedly hotter than its surface.
NASA Heads to the Sun
Published August 15, 2018
Onscreen: This weekend, NASA launches a spacecraft bound for the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe will fly through the Sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere.
Nicola Fox: It really is a mission of extremes. We will be the fastest moving manmade object ever, moving at speeds around 120 miles per second. We will also be extremely hot. We have a heat shield on the front of the spacecraft that will be experiencing temperatures of about 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. But the instruments on the spacecraft themselves will actually be operating at about room temperature. That’s how good our heat shield is.
Onscreen: The probe will explore what accelerates solar wind, study why the Sun’s atmosphere is unexpectedly hotter than its surface, and provide predictions of coronal mass ejections. If all goes well, it’ll reach the Sun late in 2018 and make its first close approach in 2024.
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- (main image: solar probe in front of the Sun)