The sea and the solar system; two playing fields that hold so much wonder and beauty but are still so largely undiscovered. In recent years, advances in technology have made it possible to investigate further into the depths of both space and the ocean, but a recent advancement is on the path to making history in a big way.
Solar Probe Plus is the first mission that will get us closer to the sun than we’ve ever been before, however, it might not be just as close as you think. NASA gave quotes to news outlets today and out the information on the website as well.
‘Placed in orbit within four million miles of the sun’s surface, and facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the spacecraft will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work.‘
We’ve never been closer than four million miles of the sun, and the mission will take almost 7 years to complete but the data collected will be incredibly useful.
NASA’s website describes how it plans to complete the mission.
‘Solar Probe Plus will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun, coming as close as 3.7 million miles (5.9 million kilometers) to the sun, well within the orbit of Mercury and about eight times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
‘Solar Probe Plus is a true mission of exploration; for example, the spacecraft will go close enough to the sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic, and it will fly though the birthplace of the highest-energy solar particles. Still, as with any great mission of discovery, Solar Probe Plus is likely to generate more questions than it answers.
7 Venus gravity assist flybys‘
One way we will benefit from the mission is to have an understanding of space weather events caused by the sun and how they impact life here. NASA made a statement about what effects are possible if a solar event were to happen.
‘One recent study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year.’
There will be an announcement made tomorrow at the University of Chicago which you can stream live. The speakers are as follows.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
Nicola Fox, mission project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland
Eugene Parker, S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago
Eric Isaacs, executive vice president for research, innovation and national laboratories at the University of Chicago
Rocky Kolb, dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago
‘…but I knew him’