A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch NASA's Parker Solar Probe from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:31-4:36 a.m. EDT (0731-0836 GMT)
Liftoff window begins at 2:31 a.m. EST
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Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first mission to the sun. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere – the corona – closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone. While facing brutal heat and radiation, the mission will reveal the fundamental science behind what drives the solar wind, the constant outpouring of material from the sun that shapes planetary atmospheres and affects space weather near Earth.
Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living With a Star Program to explore aspects of the connected sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.
NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission, which is scheduled to launch today, will come within 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) of the sun — seven times closer than any other spacecraft ever has.
The specially shielded Parker Solar Probe will have to endure temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) and solar radiation intensities 475 times higher than we're used to here on Earth.
If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will zoom close to the sun 24 times between 2018 and 2025, gathering a variety of data about the sun's structure and magnetic and electric fields, as well as the energetic particles cruising near and away from Earth's star. This information could help researchers solve two longstanding mysteries: How the solar wind is accelerated and why the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than the solar surface, NASA officials have said.
By the courtesy of United Launch Alliance
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