NASA planning to send first ever robotic spacecraft to Sun next year

NASA planning to send first ever robotic spacecraft to Sun next year

And yet the two fundamental questions, raised in the 1940s by the discovery of the corona's million-degree temperature and in the early 1960s by the proof of the supersonic solar wind's existence, remain unanswered: Why is the solar corona so much hotter than the photosphere? The Solar Probe Plus mission was announced in 2008, with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory announcing it will design and build the spacecraft.

NASA is sending the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft to within 4 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the sun in 2018. For NASA, the space organization that has a record of realizing science fictions, is planning to send a robotic probe to our nearest star.

The baseline mission provides for 24 perihelion passes inside 0.16 AU (35 RS), with 19 passes occurring within 20 RS of the Sun. Firstly, why is the atmosphere of the sun, named Corona, much much hotter than the surface? However, unlike Icarus, who plunged to his death when the sun melted his wings, we need to be very careful in our endeavor.

Researchers have tried to figure out these three enduring mysteries Christian said, but "the trouble is we're 93 million miles away, and things get smeared out in a way that makes it hard to tell what's happening at the sun".

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Eric Christian, a NASA research scientist at Goddard Space Flight Centre said, "This is going to be our first mission to fly to the Sun". While the photosphere's temperature is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius), the corona's is 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit (two million degrees Celsius). The farther we get from the solar surface, the hotter it becomes for millions of miles. "The sun blows a stream of charged particles in all directions at a million miles an hour", Christian said.

Direct measurements from the near-Sun environment will revolutionize our knowledge of coronal heating, the origin and evolution of the solar wind and occasional emission of high energy particles that are hazardous for spacecrafts and astronauts.

Technological and infrastructure affected by space weather events. So, NASA has designed a carbon-composite heat shield, which will withstand temperatures exceeding 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit as well as blasts of intense solar radiation.

The unmanned probe will have special heat tubes called thermal radiators that will radiate heat that permeates the heat shield to open space, "so it does not go to the instruments, which are sensitive to heat", Christian added. Over the next several years successive Venus gravity assist (VGA) maneuvers gradually lower the perihelia to ~9.5 RS, by far the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the Sun.