NASA launches Parker Solar Probe on its way to the sun

Aug

12

2018

NASA succeeded in launching the Parker Solar Probe on Sunday morning. After the launch on Saturday had to be called off, it went according to plan on Sunday. At the time of writing, the spacecraft sets course for the sun.

The launch took place at 9:31 Dutch time at Cape Canaveral in Florida, with a Delta IV rocket from United Launch Alliance. Where the launch had to be stopped on Saturday morning due to problems with the rocket, no problems were detected on Sunday.

At the moment of writing, the rocket is already far above the earth and all systems look good and the first, second and third stages are already disconnected from the rocket, so that now only the Parker Solar Probe is en route to the sun. NASA is going to try to unfold the solar panels so that the spacecraft can independently generate energy during its mission.

The Parker Solar Probe will conduct research into the sun, including the solar wind and other effects of ‘space weather’. More knowledge about this should ensure that better ways are devised to protect astronauts against these effects. One of the questions that NASA poses is where the solar wind comes from, and how it reaches speeds of nearly 3 million kilometers per hour.

NASA named the spacecraft after Eugene Parker, the American scientist who predicted the existence of the solar wind in 1958. It was only later that observations of particles from the sun confirmed that the phenomenon of solar wind actually exists.

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