Nasa space probe will aim to `touch´ sun

Parker Solar Probe will use Venus gravity to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun

It will also help scientists understand the history of the sun and solar winds. "It's very important for us to be able to predict the weather in the same simple way we predict the weather on Earth", explains Alex Young, a NASA scientist.

In order to unlock the mysteries of the Sun's atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus' gravity during seven flybys over almost seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun.

The corona is a "very odd, unfamiliar environment for us".

Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "By studying our star, we can learn not only more about the Sun". The Sun-facing side of the probe will endure temperatures of about 1,370 degrees Celsius.

In this image released by NASA, technicians and engineers perform light bar testing on NASA's Parker Solar Probe at the Astrotech processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near NASA's Kennedy Space Center, on June 5, 2018.

Scientists want to know why the corona is 300 times hotter than the surface of the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe is equipped with a thick heat shield to protect itself from the sizzling temperatures.

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Flying into the outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, for the first time, Parker Solar Probe will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Dr Nicky Fox, project scientist at the John Hopkins University said: "We've been studying the Sun for decades, and now we're finally going to go where the action is".

Previous missions have never got so close to the sphere of hot plasma since Helios 2 came within 27 miles of the sun's surface in 1976.

Fox said scientists have already studied the corona "every way imaginable", and a closer look is now needed.

"It's a quick dance into that special region of the sun that we need to sample, explore, measure and get to know because that's where all the good stuff happens", said Garvin, describing the mission as one of the most elaborate trajectories ever.

The spacecraft will make use of an 8ft-long heat shield known as the Thermal Protection System (TPS), which has been made using a carbon composite coated with ceramic to cope with the extreme conditions and temperature fluctuations. The $ 1.5 billion spacecraft created to "touch" the sun will be launched on August 11. Pictures of Corona will be taken through the spacecraft and the surface will be measured.

A 45-minute launch window opens on Saturday at 3:48 am (0748 GMT). The success of the mission was fully investigated for the Spacecraft at Cape Canverell Air Force Station on July 30.

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