NASA set to launch historic 'touch the Sun' spacecraft

Nasa's Parker Solar Probe lift off postoponed new launch dats is August 12

NASA stated: "Parker Solar Probe will provide unprecedented information about our sun, where changing conditions can spread out into the solar system to affect Earth and other worlds".

The probe is created to plunge into the Sun's mysterious atmosphere, known as the corona, coming within 6.16 million kilometres of its surface during a seven-year mission. That's about 95 percent of the way to the surface from Earth and is within the outer atmosphere known as the corona.

Engineers tried to identifiy the problem, but the launch window - when a spacecraft can take off in the right direction due to the Earth's rotation - closed before they could make progress.

Yesterday's launch attempt encountered a series of snags, with controllers ultimately running out of time. As soon as the red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, a launch controller ordered, "Hold, hold, hold".

The launch attempt was canceled after multiple delays. The next launch window opens at 3:31 (0731 GMT) on Sunday. But four minutes before that, NASA announced a "no-go" as the probe team investigated an issue.

"This morning's launch of @NASASun's #ParkerSolarProbe was scrubbed".

An illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun
An illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun

This followed earlier trouble in the countdown. Eugene Parker predicted the existence of solar wind 60 years ago.

"We will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission".

Its mission is to help scientists unlock the mysteries of the sun's atmosphere and answer questions like why its corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, is hotter than its surface.

Even in a region where temperatures can reach more than a million degrees Fahrenheit, the sunlight is expected to heat the shield to just around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371 degrees Celsius).

Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but only in recent years did the heat shield technology advance enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments, according to Fox.

"And it needs to be, because it takes an huge amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun", Driesman added.

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