Fly direct into Sun

Scientists are putting the finishing touches on the Parker Solar Probe ahead of its mission to fly directly into the Sun’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft will have to survive temperatures as high as 1371 degrees Celsius, impacts by supersonic particles and powerful radiation as it circles as about 7 million kilometres to the Sun.

Data sent back to Earth 140 million km away will help scientists figure out why the Sun’s atmosphere, its corona, is hotter than its surface.

But Parker Solar Probe’s deputy project scientist believes it could also lead to unanticipated discoveries.

“I’m almost certain that we will learn about new phenomenon that we know nothing about now,” Nour Raouafi said.

“That is really super, super exciting for us.”

The spacecraft will be shipped to Cape Canaveral in Florida ahead of take-off in July.

“From there, she has a couple of months of just sort of final testing … and the next stop is space,” explained project scientist Nicky Fox of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

The spacecraft, designed and built by the university, will fly around Venus seven times to get itself into orbit around the Sun in December 2024.

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