NASA spacecraft set to attempt 'landing' on the sun

NASA is set to achieve a groundbreaking milestone for humanity comparable to the historic moon landing through its planned spacecraft expedition. In the coming year, NASA's probe will traverse a distance of 3.8 million miles into space, skimming past the sun's molten surface at a staggering speed of 435,000 mph, aiming to accomplish the remarkable feat of "landing on a star." This mission marks the probe as the first of its kind to land in such close proximity to the sun's surface, providing an unprecedented opportunity to obtain the inaugural sampling of a star's atmosphere.
Referred to as the 'Parker Solar Probe,' this man-made object is on track to become the closest to the sun's surface, reaching a point seven times closer than any previous spacecraft in human history. Scientist Nour Raouafi, expressing the significance of this endeavor, likened it to the monumental achievement of the 1969 Moon landing, stating, "We are basically almost landing on a star."

The Parker Probe, which garnered attention as the first spacecraft to touch the sun in 2018, has successfully collected crucial data on the sun's upper atmosphere and solar wind, setting records for speed and distance during its journey.
The probe's primary mission is to gather photographs and measurements that will enhance scientists' understanding of solar wind phenomena. Raouafi emphasized the potential impact of this data, stating, "As we speed closer and closer to the solar surface, we will learn more about the properties of the Sun itself." This knowledge is expected to significantly contribute to our understanding of space weather and improve our ability to live and work in space.

The creation of this extraordinary space gadget, known as the Parker Solar Probe, incurred a cost of $1.5 billion. Manufactured by the Applied Physics Laboratory in August 2018, a substantial portion of the probe's expense is attributed to its material composition, specifically designed to withstand the sun's intense heat and temperature fluctuations. The key features ensuring its durability include a custom heat shield and an autonomous system that safeguards the mission from the sun's intense light emission while allowing the spacecraft to come into contact with coronal material.
Dr. Nicky Fox, NASA's head of science, expressed the uncertainty of the mission's findings, stating, "We don't know what we'll find, but we'll be looking for waves in the solar wind associated with the heating." She anticipates the detection of various wave types, pointing to a combination of processes that scientists have debated for years.

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