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[/.] NASA Plans Probe to the Sun

post #1 of 106
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June 10, 2008: For more than 400 years, astronomers have studied the sun from afar. Now NASA has decided to go there.

"We are going to visit a living, breathing star for the first time," says program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters. "This is an unexplored region of the solar system and the possibilities for discovery are off the charts."

The name of the mission is Solar Probe+ (pronounced "Solar Probe plus"). It's a heat-resistant spacecraft designed to plunge deep into the sun's atmosphere where it can sample solar wind and magnetism first hand. Launch could happen as early as 2015. By the time the mission ends 7 years later, planners believe Solar Probe+ will solve two great mysteries of astrophysics and make many new discoveries along the way. [...]

Mystery #1—the corona: If you stuck a thermometer in the surface of the sun, it would read about 6000o C. Intuition says the temperature should drop as you back away; instead, it rises. The sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, registers more than a million degrees Celsius, hundreds of times hotter than the star below. This high temperature remains a mystery more than 60 years after it was first measured.

Mystery #2—the solar wind: The sun spews a hot, million mph wind of charged particles throughout the solar system. Planets, comets, asteroids—they all feel it. Curiously, there is no organized wind close to the sun's surface, yet out among the planets there blows a veritable gale. Somewhere in between, some unknown agent gives the solar wind its great velocity. The question is, what?

"To solve these mysteries, Solar Probe+ will actually enter the corona," says Guhathakurta. "That's where the action is."
Source [NASA.gov]
Found on [Slashdot]
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post #2 of 106
That's hot.
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post #3 of 106
Toasty... Heh cool though ;p
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post #4 of 106
This shall be quite interesting.


Hope that thermal shielding can hold up, otherwise,
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post #5 of 106
Wow, that's freaking insane.
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post #6 of 106
this reminds me of the movie "sunshine"

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post #7 of 106
Very cool.
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post #8 of 106
And it survives the high degree heat...how exactly? Pretty freakin "cool" though...
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post #9 of 106
Thermal Shield wont help a bit , will burn up and all that time/effort and money for nothing.
post #10 of 106
the Thermal Shield needs to be bigger
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