NASA taking names to include in first mission to touch the sun

NASA taking names to include in first mission to touch the sun
(Source: WAFF)

(WAFF) - NASA is inviting people around the world to have their names be part of a historic mission to the sun.

Candidates will get their names on a microchip aboard NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission launching this summer. The mission will face brutal heat as it travels through the sun's atmosphere.

The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. The study of the sun's effects on space and planets is known as heliophysics.

"This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before," said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington. "This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades."

Submissions can be made online at this link. They will be accepted until April 27.

The spacecraft is about the size of a small car. It will travel directly into the sun's atmosphere about four million miles from its surface. The spacecraft and instruments will be protected from the sun's heat by a 4.5-inch thick carbon-composite shield, which will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 2,500 F. This state-of-the-art heat shield will keep the four instrument suites at room temperature.

The spacecraft speed is so fast, it will be going at approximately 430,000 mph at its closest approach. NASA states that's fast enough to get from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in under a minute.

"Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest — and, to me, coolest — mission under the Sun," said project scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. "This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we've not been able to understand."

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