Solar Plus Probe to Launch by July 2018: NASA

Solar Plus Probe to Launch by July 2018: NASA

The U.S. Space agency NASA has announced a solar probe that will gather interesting information for scientists to help them predict any major solar events and its impact on our planet. Solar flares and mass ejections can have an impact on telecommunication networks on Earth. Solar Probe Plus will remain nearly four million miles from the solar surface. NASA team plans to launch the probe during 20-day window starting July, 31, 2018.

It will be a challenging mission for NASA as no space mission has gone so close to the solar surface and NASA engineers will have to develop technology that can withstand weather conditions at distance of four million miles from the Solar surface. The heat and intense radiation at that distance would require special technology for NASA’s probe to withstand those conditions.

NASA will work in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the project to make sure that the Solar Plus Probe survives in those conditions. NASA release informed, "Solar Probe Plus will be a historic mission, flying into the Sun's atmosphere (or corona), for the first time. In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Solar Probe Plus to touch the Sun.”

"Without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year," the Solar Probe Mission team informed.

NASA release about the project further informed…

Coming closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft, Solar Probe Plus will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to achieve the mission's primary scientific goal: to understand how the Sun's corona is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated. Solar Probe Plus will revolutionize our knowledge of the physics of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Although the Solar Probe Plus science objectives remain the same as those established for Solar Probe 2005, the new mission design differs dramatically from the 2005 design (as well as from all previous Solar Probe mission designs since the 1970s). The 2005 and earlier missions involved one or two flybys of the Sun at a perihelion distance of 4 RS by a spacecraft placed into a solar polar orbit by means of a Jupiter gravity assist. In contrast, Solar Probe Plus remains nearly in the ecliptic plane and makes many near-Sun passes at increasingly lower perihelia.

The baseline mission provides for 24 perihelion passes inside 0.16 AU (35 RS), with 19 passes occurring within 20 RS of the Sun. The first near-Sun pass occurs 3 months after launch, at a
heliocentric distance of 35 RS. Over the next several years successive Venus gravity assist (VGA) maneuvers gradually lower the perihelia to ~9.5 RS, by far the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the Sun.