NASA prepares to fly probe into Sun's scorching atmosphere

The Parker Solar Probe, a robotic spacecraft the size of a small car, is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with August 6 targeted as the launch date for the planned seven-year mission. It is set to fly into the Sun’s corona within 3.8 million miles from the solar surface, seven times closer than any other spacecraft.

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The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 27 million miles.

“In the most extreme cases of these space weather events, it can actually affect our power grids here on Earth.”

Fresh delay in launch of NASA’s giant space telescope

The project, with a $1.5 billion price tag, is the first major mission under NASA’s Living With a Star program. The probe is set to use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to steadily reduce its orbit around the Sun, using instruments designed to image the solar wind and study electric and magnetic fields, coronal plasma and energetic particles.

It has been outfitted with a heat shield designed to keep its instruments at a tolerable 85 degrees Fahrenheit even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit at its closest pass.

Institute of space technology's STEP program reaches over 110 students from nine schools

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