NASA sending spacecraft straight into sun's glittering crown

But wait-now that you're farther from the fire, it's even hotter! Huh?

Similar to how "weather" refers to the motion of winds and storms, and how the properties of those phenomena (precipitation, lightning, tornadoes, etc) can affect us, "space weather" refers the motion and behaviour of the solar wind, as well solar flares and "solar storms" - the huge clouds of particles, also known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can erupt into space - and the associated impacts that these phenomena have on Earth and our technologies.

The U.S. got a glimpse of the sun's glowing, spiky crown, or corona, during last August's coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. As handsome as the corona is, it represents a massive headache for astrophysicists and solar physicists.

"You know something exciting is just around the bend, but where you're sitting you can't see what that is", Fox said.

How can the Sun's atmosphere, called the corona, reach temperatures exceeding a million degrees Celsius if the star's surface is "only" 6,000 C (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit)?

It turns out that it is much harder to launch a probe to the Sun than it is to a distant planet like Pluto.

There are other mysteries surrounding the corona as well.

More news: Mendocino Complex Fire approaches 300,000 acres as hot, dry winds continue

The fleet of heliophysics spacecraft and satellites, which observe and study the Sun and solar wind. The technology for surviving such a close solar encounter, while still being light enough for flight, wasn't available until now.

What is known is the general effect of solar wind on man-made and natural systems back here on Earth. While these shows are attractive, heavy bursts of particles called solar storms have the potential to wreak havoc on the energy grid, and back in space the high-energy particles represent a serious threat to astronauts and spacecraft.

As we continue to venture out into the unknown in search of deepening our understanding of the universe, humankind is once again force to humble itself and realize we truly are only at the beginning of this journey. The probe has some serious work to accomplish and many questions to answer in the coming years.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe - the space agency's new spacecraft created to "touch the sun" - is packed up, buckled in and ready to launch during a window opening Saturday (Aug. 11) at 3:33 a.m. EDT (0733 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, according to a NASA news conference today (Aug. 9). Each flyby will provide an orbit-shaping gravity boost, drawing it ever closer to the sun and straight into the corona - the sun's outermost atmosphere. By operating so close to the Sun, it will be passing through an environment with enormous radio interference.

Scientists want to learn about the solar wind which causes geomagnetic storms. "It allows the spacecraft to operate at about room temperature". When they reach the Earth, most particles are deflected by the earth's magnetic field. And as it draws near, the spacecraft will be accelerated by our star's intense gravity to a stupendous speed - estimated to be 430,000 miles per hour. The spacecraft eventually will run out of fuel and, no longer able to keep its heat shield pointed toward the sun, will burn and break apart - except perhaps for the rugged heat shield. If the teams investigate the issues that delayed Saturday's launch and it can't be resolved in time for a 24-hour turnaround, the next attempt won't happen until Monday.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for launch early Saturday morning. From Earth, it will head towards Venus, where it will execute the first of seven flybys. "So really the only way we can now do it is to do this daring mission to plunge into the corona".

Although much of the Sun's structure is still something of a mystery to us, the PSP is full of possibility.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
Recommended

Samsung unveils new Note 9
Since then, Samsung has subjected its phones to multiple inspections, including X-rays and stress tests at extreme temperatures. The new Note phone is expected to be bigger, have more generous storage and tout improved camera performance in low light.

Salads and wraps from Trader Joe's, Kroger possibly contaminated with Cyclospora
The products were produced between July 12 and July 18, and contain a "best by" date ranging from July 18 to July 23. A full list of products , labels, code numbers and identifying information can be found at fsis.usda.gov.

In Italy's Conte, Trump Sees a Like-minded European
Trump is noting the USA trade deficit with Italy and says he's sure "we'll straighten that out pretty quickly". CBS chief White House correspondent Major Garrett joins CBSN's Elaine Quijano with the latest.

Korea slams United States officials for sanctions
Last month, North Korea accused the United States of using "gangster-like" tactics in the negotiations. Donald Trump has touted the summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore as a historic breakthrough.

Luka Modric wants showdown talks over Inter Milan move
Modric , who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup , is in favour of a move after being at Real Madrid for six years. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has revealed that Luka Modric is available to interested for clubs for £670m.

Playing two spinners at Lord's tempting, says Virat Kohli
Jasprit Bumrah, who fractured his hand during T20I vs Ireland, has not recovered fully and is not available for selection. Joe Root made 80 in the first innings and looked slightly more comfortable against Ashwin in comparison to his teammates.

Probe opens after Russian helicopter crash kills 18
In 2016, 19 people died when a Mi-8 helicopter carrying oil and gas field workers crashed in a remote area of Siberia. The helicopter with cargo landed safely after the crew dropped the external suspension, it added.

Federal judge blocks release of blueprints for 3D printed guns
The gun plans were pulled from the internet in 2013 by order of the State Department under worldwide gun trafficking laws. On Tuesday Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would make it illegal to publish 3D-printer gun designs online.

3D-Printed Gun Debate Continues Amidst Site Takedown
The "ghost guns" blueprints have already been downloaded thousands of times since they were leaked online this week. The gun-rights activists created the website regardless of the judge's ruling, citing the First Amendment.

US can't be trusted, Iran's Rouhani tells North Korea
Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. European countries fear that abandoning the accord will lead to accelerated development of nuclear weapons in Iran.

NCAA to allow more flexibility for college basketball players considering the NBA
College players would have to request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee on their draft prospects.

Child dies after being thrown into Hillsborough River; mother charged
Witnesses say the mother grabbed Je'Hyrah by both arms and pulled her close to her chest as she waded deeper into the water. Police say she fell over 60 feet into Tampa Bay, where a marine rescue crew discovered her body a short time later.

CFB notebook: Meyer's handling of allegations against ex-assistant questioned
In a statement Wednesday evening, Ohio State said it was conducting an inquiry into the allegations raised by Courtney Smith . Meyer said in a statement he and athletic director Gene Smith agreed that his being on leave was best for the investigation.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says one more signing will be fine
The organiser of the International Champions Cup says he understands Jose Mourinho's criticism of the pre-season competition.

Nasa blasts off historic probe to 'touch Sun'
The Parker Solar Probe will have to travel about 430,000 miles per hour and use a high-tech heat shield to survive the trip . He proposed the existence of solar wind - a steady, supersonic stream of particles blasting off the sun - 60 years ago.


More News

News
More News