NASA has renamed a mission to fly a spacecraft directly into the sun’s atmosphere after a living researcher, Dr Eugene Parker.
In an event held at the University of Chicago, NASA made history by honouring Dr Parker, an astrophysicist who has helped scientists understand how Earth interacts with the star at the center of our solar system.
According to NASA, it isn’t common to honour a researcher prior to a launch. NASA missions are usually renamed after launch and certification. By doing so, NASA drew attention to Parker’s important contributions to heliophysics and space science.
What about this NASA’s mission to the sun now?
Well, it will be the first human-built spacecraft to visit a star! The launch is scheduled for July 2018, and it will last 20 days. Since it will be exposed to more heat and radiation than any other spacecraft in history, it will need to use a protective solar shadow shield.
‘The solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored before’, said Parker. ‘It’s very exciting that we’ll finally get a look. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what’s going on in the solar wind. I’m sure that there will be some surprises. There always are.’
We can’t wait for the Parker probe to give us some heat!’
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