NASA: Humanity’s first flight to sun set to launch in July 2018

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NASA: Humanity's first flight to sun set to launch in July 2018
NASA: Humanity's first flight to sun set to launch in July 2018

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Sun, scheduled for July 31, 2018.

NASA also unveiled their Parker Solar Probe spacecraft that they are going to use in the mission to touch the sun. According to sources, the probe has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Sun, scheduled for July 31, 2018.

In the middle of the night on April 2, the spacecraft was driven from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to nearby Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. From there, it was flown by the United States Air Force’s 436th Airlift Wing to Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, where it arrived at 10:40 a.m. EDT. It was then transported a short distance to Astrotech Space Operations, also in Titusville, where it will continue testing, and eventually, undergo final assembly and mating to the third stage of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.

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Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first mission to the Sun. The probe will fly through the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere, called corona. It will trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

Scientists believe that the mission will reveal the fundamental science behind what drives the solar wind, the constant outpouring of material from the Sun that shapes planetary atmospheres and affects space weather near Earth.

Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe project manager from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland said, “Parker Solar Probe and the team received a smooth ride from the Air Force C-17 crew from the 436th. This is the second most important flight Parker Solar Probe will make, and we’re excited to be safely in Florida and continuing pre-launch work on the spacecraft.”

“There are many milestones to come for Parker Solar Probe and the amazing team of men and women who have worked so diligently to make this mission a reality. The installation of the TPS will be our final major step before encapsulation and integration onto the launch vehicle.”

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Parker Solar Probe will be launched from Launch Complex-37 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The two-hour launch window opens at approximately 4 a.m. EDT on July 31, 2018, and is repeated each day (at slightly earlier times) through Aug. 19.

Throughout its seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars. Its data will also be useful in improving forecasts of major eruptions on the Sun and the subsequent space weather events that impact technology on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.

The mission is named for the University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Eugene N. Parker, whose profound insights into solar physics and processes have guided the discipline. It is the first NASA mission named for a living individual.

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Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living With a Star Program to explore aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. Living With a Star is managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Johns Hopkins APL designed, built and manages the mission for NASA. Instrument teams are led by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.; Princeton University in New Jersey; and the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Delta IV launch service for Parker Solar Probe. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the agency’s efforts to commercially provide rockets for specific missions. LSP also directs the overall launch effort including overseeing development and integration of the rocket with the spacecraft.

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