NASA to Send a Probe to 'Touch the Face of the Sun'

NASA to Send a Probe to 'Touch the Face of the Sun'

Getting excessively near the sun is never fun. It's a massive sphere of unlimited energy with temps at the centre in excess of fifteen million degrees Celsius.

In any case, NASA expects to send out a rocket one year from now that'll get nearer to our parent star than any other man-made innovation has ever been before.

Named the Space Probe Plus, it will endeavour to go inside 6.4 million km of the sun's surface. It will carry out 24 flybys of the sun with NASA with the hopes of it learning a little more about our sun’s behaviour.

"When clouds of high-speed charged particles come racing off the sun, they can bathe spacecraft, astronauts and planetary surfaces in damaging radiation," explained the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which is helping develop sensors for the craft.

"Understanding why the sun occasionally emits these high-energy particles can help scientists predict space weather. Knowing when solar energetic particles may hit Earth can help people on the planet take precautions."

The launch of the space probe is set to take place sometime between the 31st July, and the 18th August next year.

Once the rocket has been launched, it is predicted that the mission will take six years and eleven months.

Using S7 flybys past Venus, to slowly reduce its orbit around the sun, the Solar Probe will attempt to reach the closest point.

The spacecraft at the closest approach will reach speeds in excess of 725 000km/hour,

"In addition to answering fundamental science questions, the intent is to better understand the risks space weather poses to the modern communication, aviation and energy systems we all rely on," said Justin C. Kasper, principal investigator at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and University of Michigan Professor in Space Science.

"Many of the systems we in the modern world rely on - our telecommunications, GPS, satellites and power grids - could be disrupted for an extended period of time if a large solar storm were to happen today. Solar Probe Plus will help us predict and manage the impact of space weather on society."

Instruments on-board the space probe will be protected from solar radiation by a 4.5-inch-thick (11.43 cm) carbon-composite shield.

It is also needed to endure temperatures of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,377 degrees Celsius).

The Helios 2 space probe holds the record for being the spacecraft to have travelled closest to the sun.

Launching in January 1976m the probe flew to within 26 million miles (43 million kilometres) of the sun.