We are expecting some big announcement this week, about its plan to launch a solar probe which will fly directly into the Sun’s atmosphere. Named “The Solar Probe Plus” the mission will dip inside the Sun’s atmosphere, this mission will provide us never-before information about the star closest to us.
In 1976, NASA launched a 370-kilogram probe called Helios 2, which came within 27 million miles of the Sun’s surface. Astronomers launched Helios 2 in order to study solar winds and cosmic rays. With the Solar Probe Plus mission, NASA intends to be more up close and personal with the Sun’s corona than Helios 2. The Solar Probe Plus, which the agency called it as the first ever mission to ‘touch the Sun’, is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2018.
Solar Probe Plus is expected to pass within four million miles of the Sun which is almost eight times closer to the Sun than Mercury. So we are like, that’s what they call ‘touching’!? But that really is too close to Sun and the temperature can reach up to 1400 degree Celsius. And the Probe Plus is built in such a way that it can sustain that level of temperature while maintaining room temperature inside! And as the matter of fact, the probe will be exposed to the amount of heat and radiations unlike any spacecraft in the history.
The probe will fly closer to the Sun than the distance at which even close-in exoplanets orbit their own Suns and will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere to make critical observations. These will answer decades old questions about physics and about how the star was born and how it works. This mission will highly improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth. So all in all, it will be one huge achievement if the mission gets successful.