NASA plans to “touch the sun,” and people have lots of thoughts
The sun is a daily presence in our lives, yet science has had little access to its magnificent atmosphere. Part of that is because it’s just so damn hot and the torrents of radiation and magnetism pretty much destroy anything that gets close to it. That is, until now. NASA plans to launch a spacecraft into the mysterious corona in 2018. It’s a mission that is 60 years in the making! According to CNBC, “the probe will move more than 430,000 miles per hour (the equivalent of traveling from New York to Tokyo in less than a minute) and be seven times closer to the sun than any previous spacecraft.”
No wonder it’s got the internet buzzing.
So, what are we hoping to gain by ‘touching the sun?” According to CNN, NASA had this to say about the mission:
"The probe will eventually orbit within 3.7 million miles of the sun's surface. The observations and data could provide insight about the physics of stars, change what we know about the mysterious corona, increase understanding of solar wind and help improve forecasting of major space weather events. Those events can impact satellites and astronauts as well as the Earth -- including the power grid and radiation exposure on airline flights."
We know space weather doesn’t sound off immediate alarm bells. But surveys by the National Academy of Sciences show that an unforeseen solar event could cause $2 trillion dollars in damages in the US alone.
As for the internet, we see where its head is at.
The Parker Solar Probe, renamed in Eugene Parker’s honor, will carry a photo of the famed solar astrophysicist, a copy of his solar wind paper and an inscription of his choosing.
We wish you safe travels, Parker Solar Probe! We look forward to learning all you know from your journey to the sun and back!