NASA's Parker Solar Probe Aims for Sun Orbit by 2018
NASA's Parker Solar Probe, the mission that will bring humanity to the sun, will be sending a spacecraft within 40 million miles of the sun's surface. To be launched in the summer of 2018, the project will be mankind's first trip to a star.
According to a report from NASA, the spacecraft that will be used in the mission has been renamed the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. Parker is the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.
Parker is known for publishing a breakthrough article on solar wind in 1958, which became a significant step in understanding how stars interact with heavenly objects. This event is the first time NASA has ever named a spacecraft in honor of a living person.
"Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we've puzzled over for more than six decades," Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nicola Fox explained. "It's a spacecraft loaded with technological breakthroughs that will solve many of the largest mysteries about our star, including finding out why the sun's corona is so much hotter than its surface. And we're very proud to be able to carry Gene's name with us on this amazing voyage of discovery."
This probe has been in the works since 2008 and seven times closer to completion than any other mission ever, according to a report from Gizmodo. Targeting the sun's outermost atmosphere or "corona", it's expected to collect valuable data on solar wind and space weather that can affect life on Earth.
"The solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored before," Parker said. "It's very exciting that we'll finally get a look. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what's going on in the solar wind. I'm sure that there will be some surprises. There always are."