This Saturday, August 11, NASA’s unmanned Parker Solar Probe is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a mission to “touch the sun.”
The probe will be the first spacecraft to fly into the low solar corona—the aura of plasma that surrounds our closest star.
In order to reach the sun, the probe must leave Earth at a high velocity. That’s why it will be hitching a ride on the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, which is the world’s second most powerful rocket, beaten only by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.
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In a statement, NASA said the probe “will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to its surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions – and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.”
The probe will arrive at its destination by looping around Venus on October 2 using a gravity assist maneuver that will control its approach to the star. It should reach its first point of close approach to the sun on November 5.
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