NASA To Send Solar Probe To The Sun In 2018

"Coming closer to the sun than any previous spacecraft, Solar Probe Plus will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to achieve the mission's primary scientific goal: to understand how the sun's corona is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated".

Solar Probe Plus will be protected from the Sun's scorching heat by a specially designed 4.5-inch (11.4 cm) thick carbon-composite shield capable of withstanding temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius). Solar Probe Plus will repeatedly sample the near-Sun environment, revolutionizing our knowledge and understanding of coronal heating and of the origin and evolution of the solar wind and answering critical questions in heliophysics that have been ranked as top priorities for decades.

NASA will sent a robotic craft to the sun in 2018 to collect more data about the solar corona.

The baseline mission provides for 24 perihelion passes inside 0.16 AU (35 RS), with 19 passes occurring within 20 RS of the Sun.

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We live in the sun's atmosphere! Firstly, why is the atmosphere of the sun, named Corona, much much hotter than the surface? The sun's volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it.

The temperature in the surface of the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit but the atmosphere above is sizzling 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit.

"You'd think the farther away you get from a heat source, you'd get colder", Eric Christian, a NASA research scientist at the Greenbelt, Maryland-based Goddard Space Flight Center, told LiveScience.com. "The sun blows a stream of charged particles in all directions at a million miles an hour", Christian said. "Why the atmosphere is hotter than the surface is a big puzzle", Christian said.

Researchers also want to know how the solar wind get its speed as well as why the sun occasionally produces high-energy particles known as solar energetic particles.

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NASA hopes the mission will provide answers to three specific questions about the Sun, which can not be answered from Earth's distance of 93 million miles.

In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Solar Probe Plus to touch the sun.

The unmanned probe will have special heat tubes called thermal radiators that will radiate heat that permeates the heat shield to open space, "so it does not go to the instruments, which are sensitive to heat", Christian added. Data will be key to understanding and, perhaps, forecasting space weather. And the probe is supposed to get within the range of 4 million miles (6 million kilometers) from the sun.

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