NASA is flying beyond the moon and headed to the stars — or at least, the biggest star closest to Earth. NASA announced on May 31 that the Parker Solar Probe will fly through the sun’s atmosphere and hopefully answer questions about how stars work. Needless to say, the trip directly into the sun launched quite a few darkly funny reactions online.
The Parker Solar Probe mission, which will launch sometime in Summer 2018, is the first spacecraft to go to the sun. The probe will travel around the sun at a speed of 430,000 miles per hour and face the cool temperature of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. To get to the Sun’s atmosphere, the probe will “use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over seven years” to get closer. The purpose of the mission is to have the probe analyze solar wind and see what moves it. Understanding the sun and solar wind will help researchers learn more about stars and more importantly, see how solar wind can affect Earth, satellites, and astronauts.
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A day before NASA revealed the Parker Solar Probe mission, the Associated Press tweeted that the agency would make an announcement on it. The tweet’s wording immediately gave the internet a few ideas on who should “fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere.”
— AP Planner (@AP_Planner) May 30, 2017
— Andi Zeisler (@andizeisler) May 30, 2017
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) May 30, 2017
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) May 30, 2017
— wikiHow (@wikiHow) May 30, 2017
— Monica Patel (@monicapatel917) May 30, 2017
The Parker Solar Probe is named after living astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who first wrote about solar wind in 1958. The mission will last for six years and 11 months, ending sometime in June 2025.