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Nasa Launches Historic Probe To 'touch Sun'

Nasa Launches Historic Probe To 'touch Sun'

Nestled atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy, one of the world's most powerful rockets, with a third stage added, Parker Solar Probe blasted off toward the sun with a whopping 55 times more energy than was required to reach Mars.

The Delta IV Heavy is slow to rise off the pad and Fox explained that she knew this fact going into the launch, so it wasn't any cause for concern to see the payload she's worked on the past eight years slowly and majestically rise off the launch pad.

The probe will set earth-shattering records, getting seven times closer to the sun than ever before and eventually travelling at a speed of 430,000 miles per hour.

Nasa needed the mighty 23-storey rocket, plus a third stage, to get the Parker probe - the size of a small auto and well under a ton - racing toward the sun, 93 million miles (150 million kilometres) from Earth.

"We've accomplished something that decades ago, lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction", he added, describing the probe as one of NASA's "strategically important" missions.

It's on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun's surface.

"Fly baby girl, fly!" project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University tweeted just before lift-off. SolO will go to within 42 million km of the Sun's surface.

A revolutionary carbon heat shield will protect it, while the tried-but-true practice of using water inside the craft to cool it down is also being utilised. Hurling a spacecraft to the sun can actually make sense.

The unmanned spacecraft's mission is to get closer than any human-made object ever to the center of our solar system, plunging into the Sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, during a seven-year mission.

With a communication lag time of 16 minutes each way, the spacecraft must fend for itself at the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe is NASA's first ever named after a living person. The next step after that will be to complete its very first solar swoop in November.

The car-sized probe will give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.

These poorly understood solar outbursts could potentially wipe out power to millions of people.

The second is how does a solar wind start?

The Parker probe is named after United States astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who developed a pioneering theory on supersonic solar wind in 1958. All I can say is: "'Wow, here we go.' We're in for some learning over the next seven years".

The goal is to help scientists figure out what makes the corona hotter than the sun's visible surface and what accelerates charged particles to enormous velocities, producing the solar wind that streams away from the corona in all directions.

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