NASA explains why going to the Sun is so hard

Christopher Davidson
August 10, 2018

Of all matter in the Solar System, about 99.8 percent of it is all concentrated at the Sun. However, it is not easy to reach the Sun.

NASA's plans for the probe include multiple orbits of the Sun, repeatedly slingshotting itself around the star and gathering vital science data each time it makes its approach.

NASA will send a spacecraft on a mission to get a closer look at the sun. Not exactly, explains NASA. One reason is that the Earth is moving 67,000 miles per hour nearly entirely sideways relative to the sun.

An artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe nearing the Sun.

But even though the Sun has such a powerful pull, it's surprisingly hard to actually go to the Sun: It takes 55 times more energy to go to the Sun than it does to go to Mars. "In addition to using a powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will perform seven Venus gravity assists over its seven-year mission to shed sideways speed into Venus' well of orbital energy".

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All these gravity assists over at Venus should draw Parker's orbit closer and closer to the Sun.

While shedding the unneeded sideways speed, the probe will pickup overall speed and that speed will be boosted by the extreme gravity near the Sun.

The US space agency launches its Parker Solar Probe on Saturday, which will travel closer to the Sun than any mission before, to unlock the secrets of fierce radioactive storms which threaten Earth. At its peak, the Parker Solar Probe is likely to clock in at over 692,000 km per hour on its final orbits.

The Parker Solar Probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will, as the USA space agency describes it, "touch the sun" as it flies within 3.9 million miles of the star's surface. NASA's Juno right now holds the record for the fastest human made vehicle ever at over 144,840 km per hour.

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