NASA's first mission to send a probe to the sun is now preparing for the historic launch that is expected to happen this summer.
Final preparations In The Sunshine State
NASA's Parker solar probe, the robotic spacecraft designed to study the outer corona at a relatively close distance from the solar surface and the first mission of humanity to Sun, is now in Florida, to begin the final preparations for its launch, which will happen on July 31.
The spacecraft was transported from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center around midnight on April 2, to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where it was flown by the 436th Airlift Wing of the United States Air Force Florida's Space Coast Regional Airport.
The spacecraft arrived at the State of the Sun at 10:40 a.m. EDT, and then moved to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville to undergo further testing, final assembly and mating to the third stage of the Delta IV heavy launch vehicle.
On April 4, the probe was taken to a clean room in Astrotech and removed from its protective shipping container. Then a series of tests were carried out to verify that the ship made the trip safely.
"This is the second most important flight that Parker Solar Probe will perform, and we are excited to be safe in Florida," said Parker Solar Probe. project manager Andy Driesman, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. "
The spacecraft will go through exhaustive tests in the coming months, the solar probe will be installed with the thermal protection system (TPS), one of its most critical components, before being fed.
The TPS is the technology crucial to the success of the spacecraft's mission, will allow the ship to survive extreme temperatures.
Humankind's first mission to the sun
Once launched, the probe will orbit directly through the upper atmosphere Sun, corona, closer to the solar surface than any man-made object.
It will approach 4 million miles from the sun, facing heat and radiation, to provide new data on solar activity, which it could make crucial contributions to humanity's ability to predict the major spatial weather events that can affect life on Earth.
The mission in particular points to light on the solar wind, the stream of charged particles from the corona that influence the planetary atmosphere and the space weather impact near our planet.
"This mission will provide information about a critical link in the Sun-Earth connection, the data will be key to understanding and, perhaps, predicting space weather," NASA said.
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