The US space agency shows what the heat shield of the Parker Solar Probe is like.
The mission, which will be sent to space in the summer of 2018, will be the closest to the Sun in order to study our star closely.
On July 31, 2018, NASA will launch from Cape Canaveral the first space mission that will ‘touch’ the Sun. If everything goes as planned, the ship, which has received the name of Parker Solar Probe in honor of the American astrophysicist Eugene N Parker, will reach only 6 million kilometers from the surface of the star, supporting doses of radiation and extremely high temperatures, never seen before.
To achieve its goal, the US space agency has already begun construction of the Parker Solar Probe, which in the past was named Solar Probe Plus. A few hours ago, NASA presented to the media the heat shield that will protect the probe during the duration of the mission. It is the only time that the ship will have installed the protective structure prior to its launch during the next year. The heat shield, made of carbon, has a thickness of 11.5 centimeters and will withstand temperatures above 1,370 ° C.
The presentation of the heat shield of the mission to the Sun was also used by NASA to broadcast a timelapse video showing the entire installation process. According to the American space agency, the carbon cover has a diameter of about 2.4 meters and a thickness of 11.5 centimeters in order to protect the probe and its scientific instruments from the heat and energy emanating from the atmosphere exterior of the star, the crown of the Sun, through which the ship will travel during its dangerous adventure.
The mission, which has been described with adjectives as “extraordinary and historical” according to NASA, will try to explore the last undiscovered region of the solar system. The reason the Parker Solar Probe has not been a reality so far is because the materials needed for the ship “did not exist.” The presentation of the thermal shield is a steady step towards the completion of this ship, which will try to unravel the mysteries that still hides our star. The probe, for example, will try to get close enough to see how the solar wind accelerates from subsonic to supersonic velocities and will explore the origin of the most energetic solar particles.