In a mission to learn more about the sun's inner workings, NASA is planning to launch a specially shielded spacecraft in 2018 that will plunge into the solar atmosphere. The car-sized Solar Probe Plus will explore an area just 4 million miles from the star's surface, the last region of the solar system to be explored by humans.
NASA just announced five science experiments that will fly on the scorching probe, which will be protected by a carbon-fiber heat shield that can withstand temperatures of 2,500 degrees F.
When the probe is 4 million miles away, the solar disk will loom 23 times wider in the sky than it does on Earth.
The mission will help scientists better understand solar radiation. Improved solar storm forecasts could protect future long-distance space explorers who would not be protected by Earth's magnetic field.
The SWEAP solar wind experiment will count the electrons, protons and helium ions in the solar wind and measure their properties. It will also catch some in a special cup for analysis.
Another science mission will use a wide-field camera to take 3-D pictures of the solar wind as the spacecraft flies through it. Another will take direct measurements of the sun's magnetic fields, radio emissions and shock waves, and the one more will take an inventory of the sun's contents.
"For the very first time, we'll be able to touch, taste and smell our sun," said Lika Guhathakurta, Solar Probe Plus program scientist at NASA headquarters.
NASA's goals are to figure out why the sun's corona is several hundred times hotter than the surface and why it produces an accelerating solar wind. Scientists already have high-resolution images and data of the transition zone between the atmosphere and the surface, and the solar wind has been studied extensively — but still, no one can answer some fundamental questions about the sun's evolution. The only way to do it is to go to the source, NASA says. Here's hoping the spacecraft doesn't get burned.
NO. Bad headline. You don't mean "literally" you mean exactly the opposite: figuratively.
darpa could do that for real i bet.
"Ill fated Space Probe 'Icarus' Flied to Close to the Sun and Literally Burned its Arse Off" Read more about this literally misleading figure of speech to find out more.... Launched space probe in 2018. Huh?!
Title should be, "NASA Discovers Sun's Heart is 4,000,000 Miles Above it's Surface"
if they did it right, we could have a nice artificial eclipse, but they should totally up the date to 2012 and have the probe launch directly into the sun, carrying a payload of our 'useless' nuclear waste. you know, so the whole solar flares and us dying prophecies can come true.
nasa solar probe sets controls for 4 million miles from the heart of the sun, so as not to piss off the sun people who live inside the sun, because they would dominate us.
ste3v3 - that was awesome. = ) You win an internet.
Interesting!I hope that everyone had a great Labor Day!
No, they should go right for the core. Send back pictures, I want live pictures....
So, how much solar energy have you used today?
If the core was actually at absolute freezing and covered by dense liquid which reacted to it to create fire without oxygen and radiate the heat outward the heat would go exponentially outward from the photophere to the corona. The core and the liquid covering it would maintain each others states and if the liquid was compromised it would supernova. Comets supernova remnants. Planets with molten cores and stars with frozen cores. The energy from the suns core being gravitationaly more powerful than the molten cores of the planets.
Imaginative theory only
The current theory of our sun leaves us with unsolved puzzle of how the photosphere at 6000 kelvins to the corona next layer up goes to 1-2 million kelvin where is this energy coming from. The energy released from an absolute frozen state to the photosphere could reasonably expect to go exponential.
I love how this article states "the last region of the solar system to be explored by humans." Last I checked we couldn't even make it to the moon....all of these probes and robots are garbage...they need to put HUMANS into space..no more robots.