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NASA Earth Science Technology

A NASA Spacecraft Will Head Straight For the Sun -- Farther Than Any Probe Before It (abc.net.au) 78

A US spacecraft will swoop inside the Sun's corona, its superheated outer atmosphere, on a pathfinding mission to learn more about how stars work. Nasa's $1.5bn Parker Solar Probe, which will be protected by a shield that can withstand temperatures of 1,400C, will journey within 6m km of the Sun's surface, seven times closer than any previous spacecraft. From a report: Set to kick off next July, the plan is to plunge the Parker Solar Probe into the Sun's corona -- the hazy bit you can see around the edges of the Sun during a total solar eclipse -- to study this phenomenon. The car-sized spacecraft will get closer to the Sun than any other mission ever has. Travelling at the dizzying speed of more than 720,000 kilometres per hour, the probe will eventually come within less than 6.4 million kilometres of the Sun's surface. We've been studying the Sun for thousands of years, and even though we now have remote sensing observatories and spacecraft that examine it in spectacular detail, many questions still remain. The two big ones are: 1. Why is the corona on the outside of the Sun at least 300 times hotter than the surface? 2. Why does the solar wind speed up?
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A NASA Spacecraft Will Head Straight For the Sun -- Farther Than Any Probe Before It

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  • Put this story's headline with the previous one and I get the headline "Trump has NASA bomb the sun to prevent Climate Change"

    SD

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Q: How many Ice cubes were required to make this heat shield?

      Q: How close will the probe get before it melts and then the probe is incinerated?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Trump obviously got the idea to bomb the sun from watching "Sunshine" [amzn.to] on TV.
    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Eh, we should just send him as the first person to land on the Sun... but don't worry, we'll land at night!

      • If the synopsis is right (1400C/300=4C) then any astronaut who can make it through the corona to land on the sun is going to need a parka!

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          The summary is very wrong. The sun's surface is ~5800K. The corona (above the surface) is ~500,000 K, or 100x hotter than that (or more; the temperature of the corona varies). This means if the probe is designed to burn up at ~1700K, it won't get to 5 km above the surface; in fact, it will burn up more than 2000 km above the surface.

          Unless you define "surface" as the top of the corona... in which case maybe, but the temperature number is wrong at that point.

          • by slew ( 2918 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @05:47PM (#54529533)

            The summary is very wrong. The sun's surface is ~5800K. The corona (above the surface) is ~500,000 K, or 100x hotter than that (or more; the temperature of the corona varies). This means if the probe is designed to burn up at ~1700K, it won't get to 5 km above the surface; in fact, it will burn up more than 2000 km above the surface.

            Unless you define "surface" as the top of the corona... in which case maybe, but the temperature number is wrong at that point.

            I guess we have to wait until 2369 for Dr. Reyga to develop metaphasic shielding to know for sure...

          • Well, if we want to be pedantic...

            It's also wrong in that you don't "head straight for the sun". The Earth (and any probe launched from it) has an orbital speed of around 100,000kmh. If you launch from Earth and then head towards the sun - e.g., point the nose of the probe at the sun and thrust - you are going to miss our nearest star by a wide margin.

            There are two options you can take: 1) you can decelerate 100,000kmh and then let the sun's gravity pull you inwards (then the "point nose at sun and thrust"

          • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

            The summary is very wrong. The sun's surface is ~5800K. The corona (above the surface) is ~500,000 K, or 100x hotter than that (or more; the temperature of the corona varies). This means if the probe is designed to burn up at ~1700K, it won't get to 5 km above the surface; in fact, it will burn up more than 2000 km above the surface.

            Your understanding of heat transfer is very wrong. The probe could very well operate within the corona depending upon the density of the material, the heat transfer coefficient

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's depressing how stupid "science reporting" can be. Mistakes of several orders of magnitude are often never picked up by so-called "science journalists".

          Never mind, here is a slide show!

      • Eh, we should just send him as the first person to land on the Sun... but don't worry, we'll land at night!

        First you have to install a 10k gold-plated chair and toilet in the spacecraft and stock it with sufficient KFC Gravy Bowls. Then tell him that Obama was opposed to being the first man on the Sun.

    • Put this story's headline with the previous one and I get the headline "Trump has NASA bomb the sun to prevent Climate Change"

      SD

      What technique did you use to get that phrase from those two headlines?

  • by wernst ( 536414 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @04:14PM (#54528627) Homepage
    ...which was to have the probe do its work close to The Sun at night.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    it has no temperature... so the shield material will get that hot... but what's going to protect what's behind that shield from that temperature?

    Since it can only cool by radiation, it'll have to sink to the cold side, behind the spacecraft, right?

    • So... giant peltier module?

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      it has no temperature...

      Vacuum is far from empty. Even in deepest, darkest space you have a temperature of 2.7K from the cosmic background radiation.
      Temperature is not just about conduction.

      This probe is going into the sun's corona, which does have a particle temperature, but is so thin that the radiation temperature is far more important.

    • it has no temperature... so the shield material will get that hot... but what's going to protect what's behind that shield from that temperature?

      Honestly, another shield. Since this is radiative heat, that means a mirror. From there, it's turtles (or mirrors anyway) all the way down (or as many as you can fit into the space given for the weight allowance). Each mirror will hopefully reflect most of the radiation and what it does absorb, only half will radiate on towards what is behind the shield. Put a few layers of that and hopefully, only a percent of a percent of a percent will make it to the probe itself. In my physics labs, to shield our our va

  • A NASA Spacecraft Will Head Straight For the Sun -- Farther Than Any Probe Before It

    Err... what? Farther? Farther from what?

    I think you meant closer to the Sun.

  • Because it is accelerating!

    The pyramid is opening!

    Which one?

    The one with the ever widening hole in it!

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @04:35PM (#54528823)
    Since the Earth is moving in solar orbit, so is the spacecraft launched from Earth. You have to lose quite a bit of energy to slow down enough to drop toward the Sun. There is a MinutePhysics video on the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • Simon: My God! The sun.

    Elaine: What is it, Simon?

    Simon: A large, fiery ball at the center of our solar system, but that's not important now. We're heading right for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If so, then we need to fire everyone involved with this mission, as that would be about the least efficient way to go.

    In order to go "straight for the Sun," the spacecraft would first have to shed 100% of the orbital velocity it begins with by being launched from Earth, which is moving at incredible speed in its orbit - moving nearly 600 million miles in a year, or about 67,000 miles per hour. In doing so it will also need to overcome Earth's gravity. That's a stupid amount of energy.

    Much better would be to

    • Orbital mechanics fail...play 1000 hours of KSP and get back to us.

      • Instructions unclear.

        Fifteen kerbals currently available for missions.

        Six kerbals currently on mission on space station in LKO.

        Seven kerbals currently on solar system escape trajectory with no fuel. Reevaluation of mission supplies resulted in cyanide capsules as part of standard supply kit.

        Two kerbals stranded on the Munn due to improper fuel rationing. These kerbals were reprimanded for conducting unnecessary flybys of the Munn.

        Two kerbals stranded on the Munn due to failed rescue mission. Further rescue

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Seven times closer" - what positive number can you multiply by 7 to get a smaller number? The measure is distance, not closeness. Just say "One seventh the distance" - it's not any more difficult, and it actually makes sense.

    CF "x times shorter", "x times colder", "x times dimmer", "x times quieter", etc

  • Neither TFS or TFA say how any of the goals are going to be achieved.

    Bonus points would have been awarded for some background on the cooling tech.

    Nerd site fail.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @06:17PM (#54529785)
    Pink Floyd - Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

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