Monday, August 6, 2018

A space mission to the Sun.

NASA is launching its latest space exploration mission, the Parker Solar Probe.

Its Characteristics.

   * The robotic craft will fly closer to the Sun than any man made object has ever been before.

   * Will beam back invaluable new data on the star's properties and atmospheric conditions over a
      seven year period.

   * The probe will be attached to a United Alliance Delta IV Heavy expendable rocket and blasted
      into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 11 Aug.

   * Recent technological advances in cooling system and fault management have made this mission

   * Thanks to its Thermal Protection System an 11 cm-thick Carbon-composite heat shield to stop it
      burning up, temperature inside the craft will hover around 30 degrees Celsius.

   * Will travel at a speed of 125 miles a second making it the fastest.

   * Is scheduled to loop past Venus, assisted by the planet's gravity on 02 Oct - slowing its approach
      and allowing greater control - and hit the first perihelion (The point in its orbit when it's closest to
      the sun) by 05 Nov.

   * On arrival, the Parker Solar Probe will orbit around the Sun 24 times until late 2025, each orbit
      taking 88 days, passing at a distance of 3.83 million miles from the Sun's surface or photosphere
      on its closest approach.

Its Aims.

The probe will gather new information on:-

       (a) Space weather conditions that impact earth.
       (b) What causes solar winds to heat and accelerate and behave as they do?
       (c) What causes the gigantic eruption called 'coronal mass ejections'?
       (d) The Sun's energy is always flowing past the world and even though the solar wind is
            invisible, it encircles the poles as the aurora but reveal enormous amounts of energy and
            particles that cascade into our atmosphere. To discover the mechanisms that drive that wind
            towards us.

How Did The Project Get Its Name?

The project is named in honour of the American physicist Eugene Parker who first speculated on the nature of solar winds in '58. It's for the first time that NASA is honouring a living person.


1. Heard about a course mate of mine going through tough times on account of the Parkinson's Syndrome. He's, incidentally, being managed by Dr Mathew Abraham, who was my mom's doctor. He lives with his aged parents - the father is in his early 90s and the mother, in her late 80s. Must look him up in my next foray to Kochi.

2. Today also marks the 73rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima during the Second World War. My prayers and tears for the millions who met with a violent end.  

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