NASA's first ever mission to 'touch the Sun': US space agency to make big announcement this week
The US space agency, NASA, is expected to make a big announcement about its plan to launch a new spacecraft that will fly directly into our Sun's atmosphere this week.
NASA will reveal details about its new mission at an event at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 31. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The Solar Probe Plus, which the agency called it as the first ever mission to 'touch the Sun', is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2018.
Jonathan Lunine, the director of the Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science at Cornell University, said, "Solar Probe Plus will pass within four million miles of the Sun - that's almost eight times closer to the Sun than the orbit of Mercury - and provide incredible detail on the dynamic solar atmosphere."
"Solar Probe Plus will fly closer to the Sun than the distance at which even close-in exoplanets orbit their own Suns, giving us unprecedented information on the kinds of environments these planets experience," he noted.
Facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the probe will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work.
NASA says the resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.