Nasa prepares daring mission to 'touch the Sun'

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Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but only in recent years did the heat shield technology advance enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments, according to Fox.

The $1.5-billion, car-sized spacecraft is created to provide a close look at the sun's atmosphere - what astronomers call the corona - to answer enduring questions about this ultra-hot region of our nearest star."We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", project scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, said in a written statement.

Scientists hope the mission will be able to provide answers as to why the corona is 300 times hotter than the surface of the sun, a phenomenon that Nasa says is in "defiance of all logic" because "its atmosphere gets much, much hotter the farther it stretches from the sun's blazing surface". Disturbances in its solar wind can have an impact on near-Earth space, which can affect our planet's satellites.

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Our yellow dwarf star is, in many ways, a mystery.

Saturday marks the day we finally send a spacecraft to the sun.

Sixty years ago, a young astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, proposed the existence of solar wind.

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This is the first-ever spacecraft to be named after someone still alive.

Nasa's new solar spacecraft is so indestructable that parts of it will be circling the Sun until the Solar System ends, eight billion years from now, scientists have said.

The probe will blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37.

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The memory card also contains photos of Dr. Parker and his groundbreaking 1958 scientific paper on solar wind. The first Venus flyby is in October, followed by the first dip into the sun's corona in November. So really the only way we can now do it is to do this daring mission to plunge into the corona. Its closest approach will be in 2024. "These gravity assists will draw Parker Solar Probe's orbit closer to the sun for a record approach of just 3.83 million miles from the sun's visible surface on the final orbits". No matter how fast we try to shoot the probe into space, its momentum will cause it to keep orbiting the sun...