The Sun is roughly 93 million miles away from Earth, and to get the probe to its desired destination, NASA has selected the second most powerful and among the most reliable rockets now in the human arsenal: the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.
The Parker Solar Probe is said to travel so fast that its closest approach to the sun will come at an expected 430,000 miles per hour. "The first-ever spacecraft to the sun, NASA's Parker Solar Probe, will launch this year on a course to orbit through the heat of our star's corona, where temperatures are greater than 1 million degrees", Shatner said in a new NASA video about this public-outreach effort. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland, deals with the Parker Solar Probe mission for NASA. Nicola Fox, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, is the mission project scientist. "This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we've not been able to understand".
NASA named the spacecraft the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. Going to Sun is nearly physically impossible for humans so, NASA wants to ensure that at least the names of people on Earth should reach our own star, the Sun.
In the 1950s, Parker, the spacecraft's namesake, studied and proposed concepts of how stars and our Sun give off energy in what he called "the solar wind".
The spacecraft will go as close as 4 million miles to the sun's surface and protect itself from the intense heat through a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield. This heat shield will keep the four instrument suites created to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind, at room temperature.
You cannot fly to the Sun but your name can travel through its atmosphere. These repeated planetary rendezvous allow for never-before-seen data to be gathered and critical corrections to the probes' trajectory to be made, since launching directly to the Sun is not a practical option. "This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades", he added. NASA reports that it hopes the probe will help improve future forecasts of space weather events that impact not only life on Earth, but satellites, astronauts and stations in space.