NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way for a close encounter with the Sun. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carries the spacecraft. The expedition craft lifted off at 3:31 a.m. EDT on August 12th, from Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
During its mission of a very close fly by to the Sun, Parker Solar Probe will use gravity assists from Venus seven times over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun. It will fly directly through the Sun’s atmosphere, as close as 3.8 million miles from its surface, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it. The spacecraft will hurtle around the Sun at speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour. That’s 15 times faster than a speeding bullet.
This mission is expected to improve our knowledge on the Sun's corona. NASA claims that this will make the probe face brutal heat and radiation, the spacecraft will fly close enough to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic. It will also fly through the birthplace of the highest-energy solar particles. A carbon-carbon composite heat shield is used to protect the probe under these conditions.
The expedition is expected to shed more light on how energy and heat move through the solar corona and what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. The mission’s findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts on orbit, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, overwhelm power grids. As we have seen in recent science communications the space debris is becoming an obstacle when expanding the near earth space expeditions. Therfore, these efforts could always assist elongate the lifespan of currently operational satellites.