NASA just built the fastest man-made object ever

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

The probe's mission is to dip into the solar atmosphere and deduce how the rarefied gasses there are heated to millions of degrees centigrade when the solar surface itself is just 6,000°C.

The US space agency launches its Parker Solar Probe on Saturday, which will travel closer to the Sun than any mission before, to unlock the secrets of fierce radioactive storms which threaten Earth.

The Parker Solar Probe will endure tremendous heat while zooming through the solar corona to study this outermost part of the stellar atmosphere that gives rise to the solar wind. "These gravity assists will draw Parker Solar Probe's orbit closer to the sun for a record approach of just 3.83 million miles from the sun's visible surface on the final orbits".

Solar winds create the Earth's aurora borealis, but they also can be harmful to astronauts in space and impact communication on Earth. Nasa is hoping to use the data collected from the probe to help astronomers predict solar storms and explain some of the deepest mysteries surrounding our source of light and heat.

Look up for the Perseid meteor shower this weekend
Those who live in areas with little light pollution will be able to see the shower best, if there's clear weather. Some years we aren't as lucky because the peak is during a full moon , and the moonlight drowns out the show.

A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Ultimately, the more we can learn about the Sun, the better.

"We're using Venus to help slow us down, to allow us to get into a new orbit", Young said. Its first close solar approach will be on 5 November. But these findings are going to take a long time - first, the Parker probe will have to orbit around the sun, getting closer and closer, for as many as seven years. That's the same year the USA will experience another total solar eclipse, and you'll be able to see the region of the sun where the Parker probe will be.

The launch is now targeted for 3.33am EDT (8.33am Irish time), with an extended launch window through to August 23.

Latest News