Watch NASA’s historic Sun probe mission launch: here’s how

An artist’s rendering of the Parker Solar Probe nearing the Sun

The Parker Solar Probe will go closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it.

With a carbon heat shield, the probe will travel to within six-point-one million kilometers of the sun's surface.

Brazos Valley This Morning's Josh Ninke spoke with NASA Heliophysicist Dr. Alex Young live from the Kennedy Space Center about the historic mission and what researchers hope to learn. The front has a custom white ceramic coating to reflect sunlight; it's expected to glow cherry red when bombarded by the extreme solar heat.

How do solar winds, these currents of particles from the solar corona, form and escape into space? In fact, for a time during every orbit when it falls toward the enormous gravity of the sun, the Parker Solar Probe will become the fastest human machine in space. Among other things, the spacecraft will carry a microchip with more than a million names on it.

The car-sized probe, which will get within 3.9million miles of the sun's surface, is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday at 8.33am British time. The spacecraft will make a total of seven orbits around Venus. The first Venus flyby is in October, followed by the first dip into the sun's corona in November. "Four million miles, the sun is very hot".

NASA selected ULA´s Delta IV Heavy for its unique ability to deliver the necessary energy to begin the Parker Solar Probe´s journey to the sun. You see, just like that whimsical fire, the corona glows far, far hotter than the furnace that is the Sun itself. So really the only way we can now do it is to do this daring mission to plunge into the corona. Its closest approach will be in 2024.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent to up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation on Earth. About the size of a small vehicle, it weighs a mere 1,400 pounds.

"And it needs to be, because it takes an vast amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun", Driesman added.

At 91, renowned solar scientist Eugene Parker is experiencing just that this weekend as NASA launches its Parker Solar Probe, a seven-year, $1.5 billion mission to "touch the sun".

No human efforts to study our home star _ telescopes that scan the surface, X-ray observations of the corona, spacecraft that pass over the poles _ have fully answered these questions, said Justin Kasper, a space scientist at the University of MI and leader of a particle-sampling instrument suite. Why in this region does the solar atmosphere suddenly get so energized that it escapes from the hold of the sun and bathes all of the planets?

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