Parker Solar Probe to launch tomorrow!

The Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s new spacecraft designed to “touch the sun” will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at some point tomorrow.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe Orbital Trajectory
Parker Solar Probe Orbital Trajectory (source: NASA)

Whilst this isn’t as solar power focused our usual articles, the Parker Solar Probe is interesting for a number of reasons – it’s going to get closer to the sun than ever before and will teach us things we never knew about it. What will the ramifications be for us, trying to harvest energy from this gigantic star? Will we learn more about solar panel technology? We probably won’t have an answer for that for a while, but read on if you feel like a bit more info on this exciting project:

The $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe will be the first NASA science mission to launch aboard one of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rockets. If they manage to launch successfully tomorrow, that will represent the 10th launch using the Delta IV, according to Scott Messer, NASA’s program manager for ULA launches.

“This thing goes like nothing has ever gone before,” Messer said of the massive rocket.

The Parker Solar Probe, named for scientist Eugene Parker who came up with the concept of ‘solar wind’, will learn more about how the sun energises matter enough to escape its gravity and spread out into the atmosphere.

“The sun is a star, and it’s alive every second,” says Nour Raouafi, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab solar physicist who is the deputy project scientist for this mission, in comments to Vox.

“And we are sending a spacecraft that is going to fly in this very atmosphere. This is making history.”

If everything goes will with the launch tomorrow, Space.com have advised that the spacecraft will make its first ‘close’ pass above the sun this November. It’ll actually take around seven years to get a super close look at the solar atmosphere (aka ‘the corona’ – which sounds like something out of Westworld, but I digress…), so there’s still a bit of a wait!

Enjoy your weekend!

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