Parker will fly through the Sun’s atmosphere more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
|Nation||United States of America (USA)|
|Spacecraft||Parker Solar Probe (Solar Probe Plus)|
|Spacecraft Mass||1,510 pounds (685 kilograms) at launch|
|Mission Design and Management||NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory|
|Launch Vehicle||Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage|
|Launch Date and Time||Aug. 12, 2018 / 7:31 UTC)|
|Launch Site||Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.|
|Scientific Instruments||1. Fields Experiment (FIELDS)
2. Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (IS☉IS )
3. Wide Field Imager for Solar PRobe (WISPR)
4. Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP)
Parker Solar Probe will perform its scientific investigations in a hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation. The spacecraft will fly close enough to the Sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic, and it will fly though the birthplace of the highest-energy solar particles.
At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe hurtles around the Sun at approximately 430,000 mph (700,000 kph). That's fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second.
To perform these unprecedented investigations, the spacecraft and instruments will be protected from the Sun’s heat by a 4.5-inch-thick (11.43 cm) carbon-composite shield, which will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 2,500 F (1,377 C).
The Science of the Sun
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. Scientists have sought these answers for more than 60 years, but the investigation requires sending a probe right through the 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit heat of the corona. Today, this is finally possible with cutting-edge thermal engineering advances that can protect the mission on its dangerous journey. Parker Solar Probe will carry four instrument suites designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind.