NASA has announced that they will be launching a new $1.5 billion mission to visit the Sun in the summer of 2018.
Squawker.org reports: Scheduled to launch in the summer of 2018, NASA will place a probe into the orbit of the sun four million miles above its surface. At nine times the Sun’s radius, temperatures reach 1,400° Celsius (about 2,550° Fahrenheit).
“The biggest leap in technology of this mission is the heat shield,”Brad Tucker from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in explaining how NASA expects to pull off this feat.
“The use of carbon composite is really allowing us to do much more complicated things.”
In addition to the heat shield, the Solar Probe Plus will use an active water circulation system to help protect instruments that will measure the corona’s electric and magnetic fields, electron temperatures, and plasma density.
Up until this point, the closest we have come is 27 million miles with our Helios 2 probe.
Due to our technological infrastructure being dependent upon satellites, and therefore susceptible to solar activity, they are hoping the data it will collect will aid in the process of predicting solar storms, as well as widen our understanding about how our star works.
For any of those who have studied the Sun, how it functions is still a mystery to mainstream science. The Sun’s surface, for example is 300 times cooler than its atmosphere.
Normally as you move away from a hot source, the environment gets cooler,not hotter, but some mechanism is clearly at work in the solar atmosphere,the corona, that is causing a temperature increase.
“By understanding the solar wind in better detail, how it is accelerated namely, it will open up the possibility of using it to accelerate space craft like the one proposed in the Light Sail project,” Tucker told ScienceAlert.