Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is set to share major details about its first mission ?to touch the sun? with the world at 8.30pm on May 31.
The space agency will announce details about the mission through a livestreamed event from the University of Chicago?s William Eckhardt Research Centre Auditorium on NASA?s television and agency website.
The spacecraft, Solar Probe Plus (SPP), is set to launch in the summer of 2018. ?Placed in orbit within four million miles of the sun?s surface, and facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the spacecraft will explore the sun?s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work,? said NASA. ?The resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.?
For reasons currently unknown, the Sun?s outer atmosphere Corona is several hundreds of times hotter than the sun?s surface, with temperature at 500,000 degree Celsius or higher.
To obtain valuable data about our parent star, the solar probe will have to withstand the sizzling temperatures exceeding 1,400 degree Celsius and radiation, which NASA has planned to do so by protecting it by an 11.5cm thick carbon-composite heat shield.
It will be equipped with various instruments, including a 3D camera, solar wind particle detector and a device to measure the magnetic fields. The expected cost of the solar probe project is said to be around $180 million.
Earlier reports suggest, Solar Probe Plus is not the only project by NASA underway to get close to the Sun. The space agency, is working along with European space Agency (ESA) on another project to Sun called Solar Orbiter, a satellite that would also be launched to the star before 2020.