CALIFORNIA – NASA will shed some light on a historic and so far hush-hush mission to “touch the sun” in a big announcement on Wednesday.
The US space agency is working on the Solar Probe Plus project, a daring plan to send a spacecraft towards the hellishly hot outer atmosphere of the life-giving star.
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) May 28, 2017
The mission to fly a probe within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface was revealed last February. Since then, NASA has stayed tight-lipped about its attempt to uncover the mysteries of the sun’s solar winds and its continuously erupting corona, or outer layer.
Tipped to launch in 2018, the probe’s seven-year, 3.7 million mile journey will hope to uncover why the corona is hotter than the sun’s surface, as well as information about solar wind acceleration.
A greater understanding of the gaseous orb, which is 71 per cent hydrogen and about 27 per cent helium, could contribute to better space weather predictions.
To survive the extreme heat emitted by the sun, the Solar Probe Plus will be fitted with a carbon shield.
The craft will also be stocked with hardware such as magnetometers and a high gain antenna so that it can beam back important data to earth.