Just one Week Left to Launch NASA’s Touch the Sun Spacecraft

Christopher Davidson
August 9, 2018

"We're going to be very, very close". The launch window opens in the early hours of Saturday's morning, at 3:45 a.m. EDT (07:48 GMT), and will last for 45 minutes.

The $1.6-billion mission aims to improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth as well as astronauts in space, NASA said.

To get to the sun, the probe must be launched with a massive rocket, so that it will be lifted quickly from Earth. That's why it will be hitching a ride on the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, which is the world's second most powerful rocket, beaten only by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy.

"It's going to be a night launch of a Delta-IV Heavy", he said.

"Ever wonder what a spacecraft looks like tucked inside its protective capsule atop a rocket?"

NASA is on a mission to "touch" the sun.

The mission will take off from Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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The spacecraft, which is about the size of a vehicle, will then loop around Venus before it makes its final run towards the giant fire ball.

The sandwich-like layers of foam and carbon fiber, further insulated and strengthened with special coats of paint, create an incredible lightweight defense against the extreme temperatures the probe will encounter as it flies within 4 million miles of the sun's surface.

Studying solar activity and the Sun's corona helps scientists discover more about how the Sun works.

At closest approach to the sun, the front of the probe's solar shield will endure temperatures approaching 2,500 degrees.

Foam and fiber form the probes heat shield, which is nearly 5 inches thick sitting on the front of the spacecraft.

While Nasa scientists have meant to launch a solar mission for decades, cuts made to the space programme by successive presidents have hampered development, while "only recent technological advances in cooling systems and fault management have made it possible" says The Independent. This means that if it doesn't launch on the 11th, there will be other opportunities for launch up until August 23. Also on the agenda is an investigation into what triggers the coronal mass ejections, eruptions of scalding, charged material seeping into interplanetary space.

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