NASA Unveils Mission to ‘Touch the Sun’ to Launch Next Summer

Solar probe will be the closest any unmanned spacecraft has gotten to the Sun.

May 31, 2017 1:19 pm
Parker Solar Probe

Next summer, NASA is starting a journey right at the Sun.

The space agency revealed its eagerly-awaited plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to our nearest star on Wednesday. It’s the first mission of its kind.

NASA’s probe will head straight in the star’s atmosphere, called the corona. Although it will stay 4 million miles above the Sun’s surface, CNN reports the spacecraft will still sustain more radiation and heat than any other probe has faced before (up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit).

Using 4.5-inch thick armor coat of carbon shields to survive, the probe will hopefully provide answers to the Sun’s mysteries, such as why its corona is hotter than its surface. NASA said in a press release, the mission’s main goal is to learn more about the Earth’s relationship with the Sun—which could help provide useful info for improving solar storm forecasts.

The mission is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2018, ending in June 2025.

NASA made the announcement during a ceremony at the University of Chicago honoring Eugene Parker, the astrophysicist for which the probe has been renamed.

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