The Parker Solar Probe: Why NASA Needs To Touch The Sun [Infographic]

NASA has decided to make a probe that can touch the Sun. It’s called the Parker Solar Probe and its mission is to travel across our solar system and enter an orbit around the Sun that would put it inside the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The reason behind this is, of course, to study the sun up close, but what can we learn from being that close to a star?

The Sun is the only star that we can study up close and by studying it we can better understand the other stars in the universe. The Sun is also the source of dangerous solar winds that can shake Earth’s magnetic fields, disrupt our satellites, endanger astronauts, and even affect technology on Earth’s surface. Being able to predict this activity could prevent disaster. These same solar winds spread throughout our entire solar system and understanding them will be an important step in safely sending astronauts further from home. Apart from that it is the source of light and heat on planet Earth and is essential to the survival of life as we know it. We should really know how that thing works.

The probe name comes from astrophysicist Eugene Parker who wrote and article called “Dynamics of the interplanetary gas and magnetic fields”. That article theorized that there is high-speed matter constantly escaping the sun. A phenomenon that we now call solar wind. The probe is going to be in orbit around the Sun just 3.7 million miles from the surface. Which might sound like a long way but it’s actually 7 times closer than we have ever gotten before. The current record holder is the Helios 2 spacecraft which came within 27 million miles in 1976. The outer part of the Sun’s atmosphere is known as the corona and that’s where this probe will be. Using its instruments it will revolutionize our understanding of solar winds and how they are created and it will increase our ability to forecast space weather that can affect Earth.

The infographic below has the details on the probe.
Journey-To-The-Sun                                                “Journey To The Sun”
CONTRIBUTOR: Kevin Anderton