A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe on a mission to touch the Sun, on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Image credit: NASA

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe on a mission to touch the Sun, on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Image credit: NASA

Greetings, Earthlings!

There is still much to learn about our own Sun! Such questions and exploration studies, such as helio-physics, solar seismology, plasma, radiation, and solar sunspot cycles, are but a few themes for the Parker Solar Probe!

The Parker Solar Probe launched in August 2018 and will travel to the Sun and be the closest man-made object EVER to explore the Sun!

Here are some extraordinary facts about the Parker Solar Probe:

1-The spacecraft will fly close enough to the Sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic!

2-The spacecraft and instruments will be protected from the Sun’s heat by a 4.5-inch-thick (11.43 cm) carbon-composite shield, which will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 2,500 F!!!

3-According to NASA, at closest approach, the Parker Solar Probe hurtles around the Sun at approximately 430,000 mph! That's fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second!!!

4-The Parker Solar Probe will fly to within 3.8 million miles of the Sun's surface — more than seven times closer than the current record-holder for a close solar pass, the Helios 2 spacecraft, which came within 27 million miles in 1976, and about a tenth as close as Mercury, which is, on average, about 36 million miles from the Sun.

5-It is comprised of 4 main instruments: IOSIS, SWEAP, WISPR, and FIELDS

6-Currently, the Parker Solar Probe used Venus as a gravity assist planet to sling shot the probe closer and FASTER to the Sun!

 Interior of Parker Solar Probe inside the shield after final clean room testing.  Image credit: NASA

Interior of Parker Solar Probe inside the shield after final clean room testing. Image credit: NASA

Thank you for reading, and come back next week for a look at some SPOOOOOKY astronomy!