NASA Set to Unveil Mission to 'Touch the Sun'
NASA's sights are set on the sun and they're making it official today as the agency prepares to announce the first ever mission to fly directly into the sun's atmosphere. Details will be revealed during an event on Wednesday, May 31 at 11 a.m. in the University of Chicago's William Eckhardt Research Center Auditorium.
It sounds impossible to even dream of reaching the sun but NASA is launching a mission called Solar Probe Plus that's set to take off in the summer of 2018. The plan includes sending a spacecraft in orbit within 40 million miles of the sun's surface. It will observe and collect data on the sun's outer atmosphere, helping astronomers understand stars better.
As humans explore further and further beyond Earth, the events in space have become more important than ever. The information gained from this mission will improve forecasts of space weather events that often affect satellites, astronauts and even life on Earth.
The spacecraft will be unlike any other one ever made, specifically tailored to withstand extreme heat and radiation. That close to the sun, it will most likely face temperatures reaching up to 1,400°C, according to a report from The Telegraph.
The closest that a spacecraft has ever been was in 1976 when Helios 2 came within 27 million miles of the sun.
Expected to speak at the event are Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington; Nicola Fox, mission project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; Eugene Parker, S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago; Eric Isaacs, executive vice president for research, innovation and national laboratories at the University of Chicago; and Rocky Kolb, dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago.