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Iran Press TV

NASA sends spacecraft to Sun after delay

Iran Press TV

Sun Aug 12, 2018 08:53AM

NASA has blasted off a spacecraft toward the Sun on a mission to explore the mysteries of dangerous solar storms.

The Parker Solar Probe lit up the dark night sky aboard a Delta IV-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the United States, at 3:31 am (0731 GMT) on Sunday.

The launch had been originally due on Saturday, but NASA postponed it due to what it called a gaseous helium alarm that sounded in the last moments before the primarily-planned liftoff.

The unmanned spacecraft aims to get closer than any human-made object in history to the center of the Solar System.

The $1.5-billion Parker Solar Probe is designed to plunge into the Sun's atmosphere – known as the corona – during a seven-year mission.

It is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that can endure unprecedented levels of heat, and radiation 500 times that experienced on Earth.

Even in a space where temperatures can reach more than 555,530 degrees Celsius, the inside of the spacecraft is designed to stay at 30 degrees Celsius.

The goal for the Parker Solar Probe is to make 24 passes through the corona during its seven-year mission.

The tools on board the spacecraft will measure the expanding corona and the continually flowing atmosphere known as the solar wind, which solar physicist Eugene Parker first described in 1958.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA's science mission directorate, described the probe as one of the agency's most "strategically important."

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab scientist Nicky Fox said the spacecraft was well-equipped to explore the many mysteries of the Sun.

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