Published: Tue, August 14, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launch for sun, postponed till Sunday

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launch for sun, postponed till Sunday

NASA has postponed the launch of its first-ever probe to the sun due to a last-minute technical problem.

NASA managers have cleared the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe for launch early Saturday on a daring mission to "touch the sun".

NASA hopes the probe will help determine which parts of the sun are providing the energy source for solar winds and solar particles, and how they accelerate to such high speeds.

NASA is poised to launch a $1.5 billion spacecraft on a brutally hot journey toward the Sun, offering scientists the closest-ever view of our unusual and mysterious star. This will provide scientists with new data to forecast changes in Earth's space environment. But four minutes before that, NASA announced a "no-go" as the probe team investigated an issue.

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The spacecraft will thoroughly study the corona - the region of the Sun only seen from Earth during total solar eclipses.

The Parker Solar Probe is named after Chicago native 91-year-old Dr. Eugene Parker.

Saturday morning's launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was scrubbed a minute and 55 seconds before blast-off after a gaseous helium alarm went off. "But we have to go there".

The shield should enable the spacecraft to survive its close shave with the fiery star, coming within 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) of the Sun's surface.

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) had a mission to the Sun which was about to kick off today but now it will take it to the air on August 12.

In an orbit this close to the Sun, the real challenge is to keep the spacecraft from burning up.

NASA needed the mighty 23-story rocket, plus a third stage, to get the Parker probe - the size of a small auto and well under a ton - racing toward the sun, 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth. Sensors on the spacecraft will make certain the heat shield faces the sun at the right times.

The spacecraft is protected by a heat shield that will keep it closer to room temperature, about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. "We're now going to fly this mission". On the probe Parker spent about $ 1.5 billion. The FIELDS instrument will map out the sun's electric and magnetic fields, measuring waves and turbulence in the star's atmosphere to help scientists understand how magnetic field lines can explosively snap apart and re-align.

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