|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)
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 its unprecedented investigations, the Parker Solar Probe and its instruments are protected from the Sun by a 4.5-inch-thick (11.43 cm) carbon-composite shield, which can withstand temperatures reaching nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,377 Celsius).
In Depth: Parker Solar Probe
NASA's Parker Solar Probe is diving into the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation, on a mission to give humanity its first-ever sampling of a star’s atmosphere.
During its journey, the mission will provide answers to long-standing questions that have puzzled scientists for more than 60 years: Why is the corona much hotter than the Sun's surface (the photosphere)? How does the solar wind accelerate? What are the sources of high-energy solar particles?
We live in the Sun's atmosphere and this mission will help scientists better understand the Sun's impact on Earth.
Data from Parker will be key to understanding and, perhaps, forecasting space weather. Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics.
On its final three orbits, Parker Solar Probe will fly to within 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) of the Sun’s surface—more than seven times closer than the current record holder for a close solar pass: the Helios 2 spacecraft. Helios came within 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) in 1976.
Parker can survive these conditions because cutting-edge thermal engineering advances protect the spacecraft during its dangerous journey.
The probe has four instrument suites designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind.
The mission is named for Dr. Eugene N. Parker, who pioneered our modern understanding of the Sun.