Parker Solar Probe to make second launch attempt Sunday

Katie Ramirez
August 12, 2018

A first launch attempt early Saturday scrubbed with less than two minutes to go before liftoff of the Parker Solar Probe on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The launch of the probe, which will be carried on the back of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, is now scheduled to take place on Sunday morning. Saturday's launch window for the Parker Solar Probe opened at 3:33 a.m.

By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the unmanned probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around the Sun. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before.

"Scientists have sought these answers for more than 60 years, but the investigation requires sending a probe right through the 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit heat of the corona".

Parker Solar Probe is the fourth mission this year for NASA's Launch Services Program, which is responsible for launch service acquisition, integration, analysis and launch management for each mission.

The probe is armed with a high-powered heat shield that is 11.43 centimeters (4.5 inches) thick.

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Not only is the corona about 300 times hotter than the Sun's surface, it also hurls powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms and disrupt Earth's power grid.

It is created to withstand heat of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, speeds of 700,000 kilometres per hour and a journey that will last seven years.

Once on its way, the spacecraft will fly through 24 elliptical orbits around the sun, eventually passing within just 3.8 million miles of the star's visible surface, enduring temperatures of 2,500 degrees as its instruments collect data from the closest vantage point ever attempted.

"We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", said project scientist Nicky Fox from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Tools on board will measure high-energy particles associated with flares and coronal mass ejections, as well as the changing magnetic field around the Sun. When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 688,000kmh - making it the fastest human-made object.

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