NASA rename solar probe in honour of scientist

01 June 2017

Credit: NASA | Found on BBC News
Credit: NASA | Found on BBC News

The sun-exploring mission is now named in honour of Eugene Parker, who conducted pioneering work on the ‘solar wind’: a stream of charged particles flowing out from the Sun's atmosphere.

Travelling through part of the sun’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will come within four million miles – closer than any man-made object in recorded history – of our star’s surface, where its carbon-composite shield will endure temperatures of about 2,500°C.

“Nasa has never named a spacecraft after a researcher during their lifetime,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA’s science mission directorate.

The change, which comes a few days before Professor Parker's 90th birthday, means that Solar Probe Plus, will now be known as the Parker Solar Probe.

The mission was announced in 2009, and is set to launch next year from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on a Delta IV Heavy rocket.

The aim is to better understand the upper layer of this atmosphere, known as the corona, and the mission should also expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to launch its own mission to the Sun, named Solar Orbiter, in February 2019.

Credit: BBC News


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