•   
  •   

Tech & Science Parker Solar Probe: NASA's mission to solve a fundamental puzzle of physics

05:57  10 august  2018
05:57  10 august  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

NASA names nine 'American hero' astronauts for SpaceX, Boeing missions

  NASA names nine 'American hero' astronauts for SpaceX, Boeing missions NASA has announced the nine astronauts that will crew the test flights and first missions of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.Crew for the Starliner test flight are NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu-Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been selected to take part in the Crew Dragon test flight.

A new spacecraft due to launch this weekend should unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the extraordinarily ordinary star that is the source of life as we know it.

NASA ’ s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to "touch" the sun. Credit: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "We don't understand the physics of that process." A shining nuclear reactor. Our sun provides the energy for life as we know it.

A burst of solar material leaps off the sun in what's known as a prominence eruption.© Provided by ABC News A burst of solar material leaps off the sun in what's known as a prominence eruption.

Around 2,500 years ago, ancient Greek astronomers thought the bright glowing ball in the sky was generated by a red-hot stone. We've come a long way since then, but the sun still holds many mysteries.

NASA hopes a new spacecraft will unravel some of those secrets.

Due to launch on Saturday around 5:30pm (AEST), the Parker Solar Probe is destined to plunge into the sun's atmosphere.

Looking to buy?
How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit
Find out more on Finder
Sponsored by Finder.com.au

The car-sized spacecraft, named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will come closer to the sun than any other mission in history — making its closest approach in late 2024.

NASA's Sun Probe Set To Launch Next Week On Its Journey To Hell

  NASA's Sun Probe Set To Launch Next Week On Its Journey To Hell Next week, NASA is scheduled to send human technology closer to a star than ever before. What they learn could change our understanding of, well, the whole galaxy. Credit Cards Are Now Offering 0% Interest Until 2020 Find out more on Finder Sponsored by Finder.com.au The Parker Solar Probe is a mission set to orbit the Sun at just 6.1 million km. Compare that to Earth’s average distance of 149.6 million km, or Mercury’s average distance of 57.9 million km.

Media captionParker Solar Probe : How Nasa is trying to 'touch' the Sun. The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Venus in Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where Parker aims to solve these puzzles by directly sampling the corona' s particle, magnetic and

Parker Solar Probe (previously Solar Probe , Solar Probe Plus, or Solar Probe +, abbreviated PSP) is a NASA robotic spacecraft en route to probe the outer corona of the Sun.

Travelling at a dizzying speed of more than 720,000 kilometres per hour, the probe will travel within less than 6.4 million kilometres of the sun's surface.

The mission hopes to shed light on why the atmosphere — or corona — is so much hotter than the sun's surface.

"It is one of those fundamental puzzles," said Michael Wheatland, a solar astrophysicist at the University of Sydney.

"We don't understand the physics of that process."

A shining nuclear reactor

Our sun provides the energy for life as we know it. But as far as stars go, it's ordinary, says astronomer Jonti Horner of the University of Southern Queensland.

"The sun is a bit more massive than average, a bit brighter than average, but nothing to write home about," Dr Horner said.

Last-minute technical problem delays NASA's flight to sun

  Last-minute technical problem delays NASA's flight to sun A last-minute technical problem Saturday delayed NASA's unprecedented flight to the sun. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Sponsored by Finder.com.au The early morning launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV rocket on its pad with the Parker Solar Probe.Rocket maker United Launch Alliance said it would try again Sunday, provided the helium-pressure issue can be resolved quickly. As soon as the red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, a launch controller ordered, "Hold, hold, hold.

"[The Parker Solar Probe ] will provide measurements of the solar wind over a long period of time so that it will provide a lot of information about the structure of the solar wind and the acceleration process. "The solar wind also carries the sun' s magnetic field far into space – where there can be problems

Media captionParker Solar Probe : How Nasa is trying to 'touch' the Sun. US space agency Nasa has delayed The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the Parker aims to solve these puzzles by directly sampling the corona' s particle, magnetic and

Energy in the sun is generated by nuclear fusion. Atoms of hydrogen are jostled together under high pressure and temperatures up to 15 million degrees Celsius, forming helium.

That nuclear process was only worked out in the 1940s by German physicist Hans Bethe, after the initial development of quantum theory, Dr Wheatland said.

And the specific reaction was confirmed at the particle level more than 70 years later in 2014, by scientists working at the Borexino detector in Italy.

Photons generated by this reaction stream out of the core of the sun, where they are constantly absorbed and re-emitted, mainly as gamma rays.

As they move higher, the photons shorten in wavelength and become visible light. It's a slow process that can take up to a million years.

The outer third of the sun is a seething mass of gas, which rises to the surface like bubbles in boiling porridge. At the photosphere, where temperatures reach around 5,700 degrees Celsius,photons fly free — and from there they reach Earth within 8 minutes.

New Horizons Spacecraft Sees Possible Hydrogen Wall At The End Of The Solar System

  New Horizons Spacecraft Sees Possible Hydrogen Wall At The End Of The Solar System As it speeds away from the Sun, the New Horizons mission may be approaching a “wall”. The New Horizons spacecraft, now at a distance nearly 6.4 billion km from Earth and already far beyond Pluto, has measured what appears to be a signature of the furthest reaches of the Sun’s energy — a wall of hydrogen. It nearly matches the same measurement made by the Voyager mission 30 years ago, and offers more information as to the furthest limits of our Sun’s reach.

Опубликовано: 12 авг. 2018 г. NASA ’ s Parker Solar Probe mission launched Aug. It will gather data that could help answer questions about solar physics that have puzzled scientists for decades. Gathering information about fundamental processes near the Sun can help improve our

NASA ’ s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to "touch" the Sun. The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the Sun's atmosphere about 4 million miles from our star's surface.

Meanwhile, above the sun's surface, the temperature decreases to a minimum of 3,700 degrees Celsius. And then something strange happens.

Curious case of the corona

As you move further out into the corona — the fuzzy fringe you can see peeking out from behind the moon during a total solar eclipse — temperatures can reach several million degrees.

Despite the fact we have sophisticated models, remote sensing observatories and spacecraft that observe the sun 24/7, we still don't know why this happens.

But there are two main hypotheses for the Parker Solar Probe to explore.

"We've sort of pinned it down to be wave heating, or continual mini explosions like very small-scale solar flares," Dr Wheatland said.

"The waves are generated below the photosphere, and then propagate up into the solar corona and somehow give up their energy to cause heating."

The tiny explosions, on the other hand, could be generated by the magnetic field lines that criss-cross the sun's surface.

Called "nanoflares", they are believed to arise when those magnetic lines snap and reconnect.

'Touch the sun': NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star

  'Touch the sun': NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star Embarking on a mission that scientists have been dreaming of since the Sputnik era, a NASA spacecraft hurtled Sunday toward the sun on a quest to unlock some of its mysteries by getting closer than any object sent before. If all goes well, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, in November. In the years ahead, it will gradually get within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the surface, its instruments protected from the extreme heat and radiation by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wizardry.

An illustration shows NASA ' s Parker Solar Probe approaching the sun. By boldly going where no spacecraft has gone before, the Parker Solar Probe will attempt to solve big mysteries about That presents yet another solar puzzle : Scientists don’t know why the corona is so unbelievable hot, while

" Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we've puzzled over for more than six decades," Parker Solar Probe Project " To solve these mysteries, Solar Probe + will actually enter the corona," program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters said in a 2008

"Eugene Parker was well-known for his hypothesis that nanoflares occur continuously in the corona, due to a braiding of magnetic field lines," Dr Wheatland said.

"It's not clear which process is dominant. There is some evidence that both of those are are going on."

Secret of speedy solar winds

The mystery doesn't stop at the corona.

"That outer atmosphere of the sun is not gravitationally bound, it's continually expanding into space," Dr Wheatland explained.

But we don't understand how or why this constant stream of high-energy particles and plasma, known as the solar wind, accelerates.

"Most stars have winds, so it's an important thing to understand in astrophysics," he said.

"[The Parker Solar Probe] will provide measurements of the solar wind over a long period of time so it will provide a lot of information on the makeup of the solar wind and the acceleration process."

The solar wind also carries the sun's magnetic field far out into space — where it can cause trouble here on Earth.

"It constantly flows past the Earth and it interacts with the Earth's magnetic field," Dr Wheatland said.

That interaction is at its most intense when it's supercharged by a violent solar outburst called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.

Solar storms and space weather

The surface of the sun is a seething swirling ball of plasma, punctuated periodically by cooler, darker patches known as sunspots.

It’s Easier to Leave the Solar System Than to Reach the Sun

  It’s Easier to Leave the Solar System Than to Reach the Sun In a very short time, we human beings have seeded our corner of the universe with all kinds of signs of our existence. The Parker Solar Probe, a NASA mission, will blast off from the Florida coast in the early morning hours of Saturday. Next month, the spacecraft will reach Venus, its sidekick on a long journey. Parker will swing past the planet seven times, slowing down with each pass. Eventually the probe will end its rendezvous with Venus and move into a closer orbit around the sun, coming within 3.9 million miles of the sun’s surface to graze its edge. It will be more than seven times closer than any probe has flown before.

Media captionThe Parker Solar Probe spacecraft takes off on its mission to the Sun. US space agency Nasa has launched its mission to send a satellite closer to Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much

NASA ' s Parker Solar Probe —designed, built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory—will launch in summer 2018 on a historic mission to the sun. Recent observations have created a puzzle for astrophysicists: Since the Big Bang, fewer galaxy clusters have formed over time

"The sunspots define active regions on the sun," Dr Wheatland said. "These locations are where solar flares and CMEs occur."

The intense activity within sunspots arises because of magnetic field lines, rising up from below the sun's surface.

Large loops of material called prominences arc off the surface of the sun and follow those magnetic field lines.

As the surface of the sun rotates, these lines get twisted.

"The magnetic field is continually stressed, essentially from below, by the motion of gas at the photosphere," Dr Wheatland said.

"At some point it becomes too stressed and you get a sudden release of energy: a solar flare."

And sometimes, that release of energy is so great that material is spewed far out into space as a CME.

"We don't understand how CMEs are triggered," Dr Wheatland said.

"And we'd like to understand it because it is important to predict when these events will occur, because of their impact on space weather events."

So-called "space weather" — geomagnetic storms caused by the interplay between the sun and the Earth's magnetic fields — can produce effects ranging from beautiful aurorae at our poles, to the destruction of telecommunication systems.

CMEs are not a threat to life, but they are to technology, Dr Horner said.

"There's a lot of money and a lot of thought that goes into understanding space weather," he said.

"If you're putting a billion-dollar satellite up there, you want to know what's going on."

According to Dr Horner, we're fortunate that our little star is actually pretty boring.

"You do get sunspots and solar maximum and solar minimum, but most stars are more variable than the sun," he said.

Sunspot activity broadly rises and falls in an 11-year cycle — and we are now approaching solar minimum, a relatively quiet time.

A snapshot of stellar evolution

The better we can understand our sun, the better we can understand other stars as well, Dr Horner said.

"The sun is the only star we can study up close and personal," he said.

"Anything we can do to better understand how the solar corona works or how the solar wind works can be fed into the work we're doing with other stars."

At around 4.6 billion years old, our sun has reached middle age.

From an astronomical point of view, we know very little about its behaviour over the long term, Dr Horner said.

"We've only had the technology to properly observe the sun in detail for a couple of hundred years, which in the lifetime of the sun is less than a heartbeat."

How Will NASA Know If Opportunity Is OK After The Martian Dust Storm? .
Nearly all of Mars has been under the assault of a planet-wide dust storm since June. The nerve-wracking question. Is the Opportunity rover OK?The 15-year-old rover has been incommunicado since June 10, according to a NASA release, as the dust storm cut it off from solar power. NASA scientists are confident that the rover will weather the storm, so they’re just waiting for the wakeup call.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!