Summer Heat: NASA’s Mission to ‘Touch’ the Sun

Summer Heat: NASA’s Mission to ‘Touch’ the Sun

Imagine flying into the outer layer of the sun. So far, the closest a spacecraft has come to the sun was in 1976 when NASA’s Helios 2 made it to within 27 million miles of the surface. Now NASA plans to improve on the observations made with Helios 2 and distant satellite observations by sending the Parker Solar Probe to the sun.

Sun Layers DiagramNASA plans to launch the Parker Solar Probe during summer 2018. The spacecraft will spend several months making the journey to the sun before finally arriving in the fall. As the craft nears the sun, it will navigate through a series of maneuvers designed to slow its speed to less than 0.5 million miles per hour as it approaches the outer layer of the sun, known as the corona. The Parker Solar Probe will then enter the corona – which starts about four million miles from the surface of the sun – and utilize a variety of on-board instruments to collect data to send back to scientists at NASA.

As you might imagine, approaching the sun means that the probe will need to ensure extreme temperatures, which is in fact part of the probe’s mission. As CBS News reports, the photosphere – the surface of the sun itself – reaches temperatures of 6,000 degrees F, but areas of the corona can reach temperatures in the millions of degrees. The craft and its instruments will be protected from temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees F by a special 4.5-inch thick heat shield which scientists hope will allow to probe to gather better data on why this heat discrepancy exists.

There are several other questions that scientists hope to answer with this space mission, including how the sun produces supersonic-speed winds that affect satellites and spacecrafts. The craft will carry instruments to measure electronic particles and telescopes to provide close-up images of the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe is also unique as it is the first spacecraft to be named after a retired physicist during their lifetime, notes NPR. The probe is named for Eugene Parker, who is credited with first predicting solar winds nearly 60 years ago, and is poised to celebrate his 90th birthday this year.

While this probe will take a close-up look at our nearest star, Observa Dome Laboratories is the leading manufacturer of telescope shelters and observatory domes to help you look at the ones more far away. Our custom-built domes are in use around the world from residential observatories to commercial and educational facilities. Contact us today by calling 601-982-3333 to learn more about our custom-designed observation domes and telescope shelters.

Telescopes of Tomorrow: Looking at Our Latest Looking Glasses

Telescopes of Tomorrow: Looking at Our Latest Looking Glasses

Scientists are currently preparing to see some things that they have never seen before. Over the course of the last month, there have been a few major developments announced in regards to new telescopes that are set to be put into use soon. James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope has been an…

Martian Roundup: What’s Happening on the Red Planet?

Martian Roundup: What’s Happening on the Red Planet?

The Red Planet has long fascinated people here on Earth, and it has featured prominently in countless stories and movies. Thanks to ongoing exploration and research, we now know more than ever about Mars. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest things happening with the Red Planet. Curiosity Rover…

TRAPPIST and New Planets: How Do We Know About Exoplanets?

TRAPPIST and New Planets: How Do We Know About Exoplanets?

By now you’ve probably heard of NASA’s discovery last month of seven new planets – exoplanets – orbiting a star called TRAPPIST-1. Exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system, are hard to detect – especially when you consider the vast span of light years between the Earth and these other suns.…

That’s No Moon – Oh, Wait, Yes it Is!

Our fascination with the universe will always continue because there is so much still to discover. Just like our ancestors, we look up at the sky and wonder what is out there. As technology advances, scientists continue to learn more and more even just about our solar system and reveal new secrets and revelations that…

The Tale of the Tail of Halley’s Comet

The galaxy is an amazing place. There are so many stars, planets and satellites in the sky that you could spend a million lifetimes exploring the vastness of the Milky Way alone and still only witness a small fraction of its incredible vastness. Fortunately, one of the best shows in the universe – meteor showers…

Celebrate International Astronomy Day

Easter is in the past and Memorial Day is still more than a month away, but there’s one holiday space lovers can get ready to celebrate – International Astronomy Day, celebrated this year on May 14. Started in 1973, Astronomy Day promotes greater education and understanding of the universe among the general public. Astronomy clubs…

March is a Big Month in the Skies Above

There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying an evening gazing at the stars. If you are lucky enough to view the skies under an Observa Dome, you will be protected from the elements while getting to take in space’s biggest mysteries. Each month there are different astronomical events to look forward to, and March is…

Quadrantids Open Up the New Year

“Star Wars” returns to theaters on Dec. 18 and shortly afterward a number of events will be happening in outer space not involving the Force or any members of the Skywalker family.   Astronomers, both professional and amateur, are anxiously waiting on a number of key events in early 2016 as the celestial events calendar…