Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Earth NASA Sun Microsystems Science

An Up-Close Look At the Parker Solar Probe -- the Spacecraft That Will Skim the Sun's Surface (arstechnica.com) 121

schwit1 shares a report from Ars Technica, offering an up-close look at the Parker Solar Probe: This summer, NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, an impressively heat-resistant spacecraft destined to glide closer to the surface of the Sun than any spacecraft before it. It will fly within about 6 million kilometers of the searing surface, more than seven times closer than earlier craft. If all goes to plan, the craft will be hurtling at 724,205 km per hour and have its one-of-a-kind heat shield perfectly facing the surface as it makes those closest approaches. In about seven years, it will complete 24 orbits around the Sun and pass by Venus seven times. All the while, the Parker probe will collect a constellation of data to help answer scientists' burning questions -- and solve some sizzling mysteries -- about the orb of hot plasma that lights up our Solar System. Namely, it will try to help us finally understand why the Sun's atmosphere is 300 times hotter than its surface, which itself is a balmy 5,727C. This fact defies basic physics and to this day is unexplained. One of the leading hypotheses to account for the heat shift comes from famed physicist Eugene Parker, after whom the probe is named. In the mid-1950s, Parker theorized that the Sun's super-heated corona could be explained by a complex system of plasma, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that spark solar explosions called "nanoflares." Scientists are thirsty for close-up data on those potential explosions as well as the cascade of energy called solar wind. With that data, they can put their hypotheses to the test. And in addition to helping us understand coronal heat, data on these sunny phenomena could help clear up poorly understood space weather, which can wreak havoc on satellites and power lines here on Earth.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

An Up-Close Look At the Parker Solar Probe -- the Spacecraft That Will Skim the Sun's Surface

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2018 @09:08AM (#56352595)
    The plasma increases in density and temperature gradient until some arbitrarily defined point of human definition. If this thing is warping through there 7e5 km / hr then it's obviously nowhere near any surface.
    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @09:37AM (#56352717) Homepage

      True, and insightful. The sun has a visible surface, where the plasma becomes opaque. But the visible surface isn't a "surface" in any sense other than being visible-- it is a place where the density is actually far far less than the Earth's surface atmospheric density.

      Cool to see the mission get some publicity --I was involved in the design (power system).

      • How do you mod True and Insightful?
      • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @11:19AM (#56353323)

        I might add that this mission is far more interesting than a trip to Mars.

      • by G00F ( 241765 )

        What kind of materials are used that can take that kind of heat, even a fraction of the heat destroys most electrical component.

        Honestly, it is people like you that keep me coming back to /. , I have yet to find a single site to replace it.(sure there is hacknews and reddit...)

        • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @12:48PM (#56353961)

          You send the spacecraft at night. I'm only kind of joking: you make a heat shield that creates an artificial "night" behind the shield. The only way for heat to transfer in space is radiation, so you just have to make sure that a) the more delicate components can't see the sun (so the sun can't heat them up directly), b) the shield doesn't transfer heat very well to the rest of the craft (it does have to be physically attached, but you can use very good insulators), and c) the shield poorly absorbs heat through radiation. a is easy, c is relatively easy (literally, you just paint it white), and b is tricky but very much possible. If the craft was an ideal black body, this wouldn't be possible, but fortunately it isn't.

        • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @12:59PM (#56354015) Homepage

          What kind of materials are used that can take that kind of heat, even a fraction of the heat destroys most electrical component.

          Carbon. Sublimates around 3825C or so.

          Most of the spacecraft hides behind the carbon shadow shield-- almost all the instruments don't need to look toward the sun (the main interest is plasma and fields). The exception is the solar array (my part of the project!)-- this doesn't work unless it is in the sunlight :). But the sunlight is intense enough that we only need a tiny bit of the array to be illuminated, so we retract most of it into the shadow, tilt the part that does see the sun, and use concentrator solar cells that are actively cooled to keep temperatures reasonable.

          Honestly, it is people like you that keep me coming back to /. , I have yet to find a single site to replace it.(sure there is hacknews and reddit...)

          Thanks.

          • Is the David Brin's "Sundiver" design (with lasers dissipating the heat away from the ship) any realistic?
            • Is the David Brin's "Sundiver" design (with lasers dissipating the heat away from the ship) any realistic?

              Unfortunately not. In oversimplified terms, waste heat radiators "really" get rid of excess entropy. Laser beams are low entropy, so they don't radiate waste heat, they radiate usable energy. Waste heat is defined as everything that is not useable energy. If lasers could radiate waste heat, you could make a perpetual motion machine of the second kind. [futurelearn.com]

              In less technical terms: the laser would need a waste-heat radiator.https://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=11923383&cid=56369001#

      • Props to you and good luck!
    • It's a Parker Square of a title.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @09:15AM (#56352625)

    I hope they plan on only going there at night!

  • Very punny (Score:4, Funny)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @09:27AM (#56352669)

    All the while, the Parker probe will collect a constellation of data to help answer scientists' burning questions....

    Pun intended I hope

  • The mystery is a lot simpler, just read up on https://www.thunderbolts.info/... [thunderbolts.info] and other Electric Universe research. Our sun is basically a gigantic electric arc lamp.

    IMarv

    • Nah, it's much simpler than that. The core doesn't burn so hot because there's less oxygen in the center than on the exposed surface.

    • by Burdell ( 228580 )

      I thought the Sun was a mass of incandescent gas (or maybe a miasma of incandescent plasma).

    • 'Gigantic' is all relative, compared to other stars, our Sun is not the brightest.
    • It's a sign of weakness when somebody has to resort to misstating or understating an argument. This [slashdot.org] is what the actual argument looks like.

    • by meglon ( 1001833 )
      Except EU is complete bullshit. It' not science, it's a pseudo-science cult for batshit stupid fanbois. I seriously cannot fathom why dipshits still think it's anything; it doesn't have any math behind it, and it requires Relativity to be completely wrong... yet every experiment and observation shows Relativity to be correct. What mental defect does someone have to have to continue to deny reality in the face of stupidity; what benefit does your ignorance give you?
      • It "doesn't have any math behind it"? [ptep-online.com]

        Re: "and it requires Relativity to be completely wrong"

        All you've done here is to ignore the disconnect between Relativity and quantum mechanics. The two ideas cannot be made to work with one another, so simple logic suggests that at least one of them must be in error.

        Also: the failure to observe dark matter, even as instrumentation for observing it has become a million times more sensitive over the past 15 years, is further reason to suspect -- as has been stated by

      • The issue is that mainstream scientists and views are equally as clueless perhaps?

  • A group of North Korean scientists caused quite a stir when they attended a convention of astrophysicists, and proclaimed boldly that they were going to land a manned space probe on the sun. There was silence in the auditorium for about five seconds, before uproarious laughter burst out. One of the distinguished scientists from England stood up, cleared his throat, and said, "Why this is QUITE preposterous! You'll never get a manned craft within a million miles of the sun before it burns up! No one woul
  • At its closest the probe will be 1/10 the distance Sun-Mercury
  • Thats a feat in itself as the fastest we ever launched was roughly Juno with a gravity assist got to 265,000 KPH, and these guys are gonna go almost 3 times as fast, is this correct?! Anyone?

    • It's probably easier to go towards the Sun.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No. To escape the solar system you have to go sqrt(2) x orbital velocity where you start. At earth's orbit, that would be ~30km/s, or ~42km/sec, a deltav of 12km/s.

        To crash into the sun, you have to kill all orbital speed for a deltav of 30km/s.

    • At those speeds and distances, how would this not be ablative?

      • At those speeds and distances, how would this not be ablative?

        Errr, by not hitting anything? Seriously - despite the visible impact of the corona when you see a total solar eclipse, and the perfectly accurate talk of "coronal mass ejections" and solar wind, it's still a pretty good vacuum out there, by terrestrial laboratory standards.

  • by BDeblier ( 155691 ) on Friday March 30, 2018 @10:08AM (#56352849) Homepage

    Unfortunately Parker didn't appear in the Sun Probe episode.

  • It's always fun whenever physics gets a good shake-up.

    I'll just leave this excerpt from Robitaille's 2007 paper [ptep-online.com] here.

    There are numerous arguments supporting a liquid plasma model. These include: (1) the continuous nature of the emission spectrum, (2) the average density of the solar mass, (3) the gentle oblateness of the solar sphere, (4) the presence of a distinct solar surface, (5) the presence of surface gravity waves and helioseimology studies, (6) the known existence of hydrogen on Earth in the liquid

    • ... except that for some people who have refused to question the worldview which was taught to them in school, for whom disrupting modern science theories is interpreted as an attack upon their own personal worldview. These people can be identified by their emotional rants and general failure to cite technical arguments, and they seem unaware of the fact that their "defense of science" is also a defense against innovation in the sciences.

        • Yeah, how dare people discuss the idea that electricity flows through space in a tech forum? And no less, in regards to a mission whose purpose is to resolve "burning questions -- and some sizzling mysteries -- about the orb of hot plasma that lights up our Solar System". Nevermind the fact that the inverse corona temperature enigma is a mystery for the vey reason that it's power source is claimed to come from its core; I mean, we should leave it up to the scientists to come up with "a complex system of p

    • In a shocking discovery today, scientists have confirmed that the sun is flat and simply rotates to face Earth.

      Local Flat-Sun advocate commented "Of course it's flat, anyone can see that plain as day" before attempting to thrash our reporter with his white cane.

  • There have been multiple public presentations about the software on this mission.

    http://flightsoftware.jhuapl.e... [jhuapl.edu]
    http://flightsoftware.jhuapl.e... [jhuapl.edu]

    Goddard also has the interesting framework Core Flight System (cFE/cFS) which is available as open source. Again multiple presentations on it but a nice presentation by Dave McComas on it is here:

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/... [nasa.gov]

  • Hm, I have reservations about this probe-- sounds familiar [wikia.com]

    • The concept is much older than Star Trek. The earliest fictional reference I know of is a Ray Bradbury short story which is apparently too short to merit its own wiki entry. It's about a spacecraft diving close to the sun to scoop up some of its material (albeit for profit, not research).
  • Sun Probe [wikia.com]

    I loved that show when I was a kid.

  • Submit your name and it will be included in a memory card that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe spacecraft.
    Submissions will be accepted through April 27, 2018.
    http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl... [jhuapl.edu]

  • I had read that sound waves were the cause of the corona being hotter than the surface.
    Not your conventional sound waves, yet a likeness caused by the roiling surface creating audio frequency waves through the plasma.

    Also, how can anything survive millions of degrees of heat?!
    I cannot think of anything that doen't melt at even the 5000C surface temperature of the Sun.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

Working...