NASA Launched Parker Solar Probe On Voyage to Touch the Sun

Dr Nicky Fox just left of centre and other members of the Parker Solar Probe team

The $1.5 billion Parker probe will go past the sun as close as 3.83 million miles from its surface, the photosphere-a number that sounds huge in total terms yet is in any case sufficiently close to the star to open it to temperatures of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,377 degrees Celsius).

In 2017, the mission was renamed for Eugene Parker, the S Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. The Parker probe is also the first spacecraft to be named after a living person- astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91- he was the first to describe solar wind in 1958.

"The key lies in its custom heat shield and an autonomous system that helps protect the mission from the Sun's intense light emission, but does allow the coronal material to "touch" the spacecraft", NASA said in a statement according to news agency ANI report. The Delta IV port and starboard booster engines shut down and separated, the main core booster engine cut off and then separated from the second stage. U-I physicist Jasper Halekas, a co-investigator on the Parker Solar Probe, says his main experiment is focused on what's known as the solar wind.

A Saturday morning launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble.

Sunday's flight marked the 129th successful flight for ULA, and the 10th for the Delta IV Heavy rocket.

"Now I have to turn from really biting my nails to thinking about the interesting things [to come] that I don't know yet, which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five, six, or seven years", he said.

Yet the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 degrees Fahrenheit. "We've looked at it. We at NASA and the Launch Services Program are thrilled to be part of this mission". "But we have to go there".

Researchers will vicariously explore the Sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, in an effort to better understand the complexities of the solar wind Parker theorized 60 years ago. It also holds a memory card containing more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to travel with the spacecraft to the Sun.

Onboard the Parker Solar Probe is a suite of instruments created to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, as well as capture images of the solar wind.

Parker will be subject to temperatures in excess of 1,371 degrees Celsius, but if the heat shield does as intended, this will feel closer to 29C for the important instruments aboard the probe.

Nothing from planet Earth has ever hit that kind of speed. Speaking to the Multiverse programme run by the University of California at Berkeley, she said her father propped her up in front of the television so she could witness the historic event.

The shield is a 7.5-foot-wide and 4.5-inch-thick shield made of advanced carbon-composite material, and this should keep the spacecraft's scientific instruments safe.

"We've had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams", Fox said.