NASA Parker Solar Probe launches on mission to high-five the sun

Parker Solar Probe launch

Originally slated to fly in the small hours of Saturday morning, the Parker Solar Probe blasted off Sunday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 03:31 am EDT / 00:31 PT / 8.31 UMT. The reason for the delay was not immediately clear, but was called for after a gaseous helium alarm was sounded in the last moments before liftoff, officials said.

The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just 6.16 million km (3.83 million miles) from the Sun's broiling "surface".

NASA's Parker Solar Probe, mankind's first mission to "touch" the Sun, has been launched today on a seven-year long journey to unlock the mysteries of our star's fiery outer atmosphere and its effects on space weather. Scientists aim to learn more about the mechanisms that power the solar wind of charged particles the sun sends into the solar system, creating aurorae on Earth and sometimes screwing with our tech.

It will make 24 passes through the corona during its seven-year mission.

The entire project cost R20.5-billion and will continue until 2025.

By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the unmanned probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around the Sun.

NASA on Sunday blasted off a $1.5 billion spacecraft toward the Sun on a historic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of risky solar storms.

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In particular, it is hoped to give scientists a greater understanding of solar wind storms that have the potential to knock out the power on Earth.

That's around 4 per cent of the distance between the earth and the sun.

Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was launched on Sunday. The corona holds the answers to many of scientists' outstanding questions about the Sun's activity and processes.

Eugene Parker is a University of Chicago professor emeritus in physics who first proposed the concept of the solar wind.

It is travelling on board the Delta-IV Heavy rocket, which will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System.

During its historic journey, the probe will jet past Venus at speeds of 430,000 miles per hour, the equivalent of flying from NY to Tokyo in one minute.

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