Nasa is set to launch a spacecraft on a scorching journey towards the sun, with an aim to offer the closest-ever glimpse of the star at the centre of the solar system.
The Parker Solar Probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will fly closer to our star than any other man-made object.
At 3:33 a.m. EDT, the Parker Solar Probe will launch from Space Launch Complex 37 on Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
After launch, the spacecraft will head toward the sun's atmosphere, known as the solar corona, made up of super hot plasma. "It gives me the sense of excitement of an explorer". It will hitch a ride into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, and an upper stage boost from the rocket will send it hurtling out of Earth's orbit and on a path to Venus, eventually moving at speeds up to 700,000 kmh (430,000 mph) - faster than any probe that came before it. While we don't have technology that would survive the sun's surface heat of 2 to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit, the Parker probe has heat shields that will protect it from the temperatures it will face, about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", project scientist Nicky Fox said in a statement.
A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Ultimately, the more we can learn about the Sun, the better. Its first close solar approach will be on 5 November. If we're able to learn more about its origin and behavior, it might be possible to predict when space weather might occur.
Saturday marks the day we finally send a spacecraft to the sun.
Scientists have had to take great care to make sure that the Parker Solar Probe doesn't burn up in the process of conducting its important science.
NASA says it's ready for a historic trip to the sun this weekend.
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