NASA is sending a probe to the sun. Yes, this time NASA is the alien entity probing a helpless star. NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for astrophysicist Eugene Parker and outfitted with an almost 5-inch thick coat of carbon-composite solar shields, will set off next year in the hopes of exploring the sun's atmosphere. The mission is to send the probe within 3.7 million miles of the sun's surface, NASA announced during a news conference on Wednesday.
Scientists hope the trip will provide insights into the sun's mysterious corona, teach us more about the physics of stars, help explain solar wind, and improve forecasting of space weather events that affect satellites, astronauts, and the Earth, according to NASA.
The mission is slated to begin in the summer of 2018, giving sunblock companies plenty of time to come up with clever marketing schemes. Coppertone-branded solar shields, anyone?
[Photo: NASA/SDO] ML