NASA postpones launch of first solar probe until Sunday


NASA postpones launch of first solar probe until Sunday

Pablo Tucker
August 12, 2018

The probe will be controlled from the Mission Operations Centre based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL), which is where NASA handles its unmanned missions.

Parker Solar Probe is the fourth mission this year for NASA's Launch Services Program, which is responsible for launch service acquisition, integration, analysis and launch management for each mission. The shield is also built to sustain solar radiation levels 500 times greater than those that reach Earth.

NASA early Saturday scrubbed its planned launch of humankind's first probe to the sun, planning to try again Sunday morning.

The launch was supposed to go off early Saturday but was pushed back until 3:31 a.m. Sunday.

When it does launch, the Parker Solar Probe will get as close as 3.83 million miles to the sun's surface.


The mission is named after famed solar scientist Eugene Parker, and is NASA's first to be named after a living person.

With one minute and 55 seconds left on the countdown timer, a launch controller ordered "Hold, hold, hold" when a pressure alarm sounded, showing that there was a fault with the Delta IV Heavy rocket's helium system. The forecast shows a 60 per cent chance of favourable weather conditions for the launch.

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The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. The agency is now targeting Sunday for the launch of the spacecraft which is created to go all the way to the Sun's atmosphere, or corona - closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

The Parker Solar Probe was to touch our hot star with its lift off scheduled for August 11 from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


The probe is protected by a 4in-thick shield that constantly repositions itself between the sun's power and the scientific instruments on board.

"With each orbit, we'll be seeing new regions of the Sun's atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we've wanted to explore for decades", Fox added.

Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine".

When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object.


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