If you were wondering what’s next for space exploration, then you would be surprised learn the NASA is going to reveal significant details about its mission to explore the atmosphere of Sun as the space agency is planning on sending a spacecraft directly to the Sun’s atmosphere.
In an official statement, NASA confirmed that scientists working on the project will hold a live conference later on 31st May to let everyone know more about the upcoming mission. The official statement said, “Placed in orbit within four million miles of the sun’s surface, and facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the spacecraft will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work. The resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.”
The probe is set to launch in July or August 2018 and over next seven years of the mission, the spacecraft will have a total of 24 close encounters with the sun. In order to protect it from intense radiation, NASA said that the probe has been designed with 4.5 inch thick carbon-composite shield which will protect it from possible damages.
The space agency said that goal of the mission is to understand how the Sun impact the lives on earth. NASA said, “One recent study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year.”
“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.”
Jonathan Lunine, who served on different projects of the agency commented, “Solar Probe Plus will pass within four million miles of the sun—that’s almost eight times closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury—and provide incredible detail on the dynamic solar atmosphere.”
“Solar Probe Plus will fly closer to the sun than the distance at which even close-in exoplanets orbit their own suns, giving us unprecedented information on the kinds of environments these planets experience.”