US space agency NASA on August 12, 2018, launched Parker Solar Probe, a historic mission to touch the sun. The main aim of the mission is to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before. The rocket carrying the solar probe lifted off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US. The launch happened after a failed attempt on the previous day when a last-minute alarm caused the agency to miss its 65-minute weather window.
The mission is named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, the physicist who first theorized the existence of the solar wind in 1958. It is the first spacecraft to be named after a living person.
A plaque dedicating the mission to Parker was attached to the spacecraft in May. It includes a quote from the renowned physicist – “Let’s see what lies ahead.” It also holds a memory card containing more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to travel with the spacecraft to the Sun.
1. The solar probe was launched aboard United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.
2. The spacecraft is expected to fly past Venus in six weeks and make the first contact with the Sun six weeks after that.
3. Just under an hour after the launch, NASA confirmed that the spacecraft had successfully separated and the probe had been released into space.
4. At this point, the probe will be moving at roughly 430,000 miles per hour, setting the record of being the fastest human-made object ever.
5. In its seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will make six more Venus flybys and 24 total passes by the Sun, journeying steadily closer to the Sun until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles.
6. The probe will dip inside the tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions and getting to just 6.16 million km from the Sun’s broiling surface.