JUL 08, 2018 04:46 PM PDT

NASA Engineers Install Revolutionary Heat Shield on the Parker Solar Probe

Despite all the things we’ve learned about the Sun over the years, we still have much to learn. Fortunately, NASA plans to send a specially-made spacecraft closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it, allowing scientists to capture vital measurements of the corona and study its internal mechanisms.

The spacecraft, known as the Parker Solar Probe, will orbit the Sun within as little as 4 million miles. At this proximity, the spacecraft will endure scorching-hot temperatures that exceed 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and this feat will require a revolutionary type of heat shield. 

NASA engineers install the TPS on the Parker Solar Probe.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

In an official statement released by NASA just last week, the space agency notes how engineers have started to permanently fasten said heat shield to the Parker Solar Probe’s integrated chassis. NASA refers to the heat shield as the probe’s Thermal Protection System, or TPS for short.

But how will the TPS be able to keep the Parker Solar Probe’s internal components cool enough to operate safely? NASA explains it best:

“The heat shield is made of two panels of superheated carbon-carbon composite sandwiching a lightweight 4.5-inch-thick carbon foam core,” the space agency noted in the statement.

“The Sun-facing side of the heat shield is also sprayed with a specially formulated white coating to reflect as much of the Sun’s energy away from the spacecraft as possible.”

Related: Despite their name, solar tornadoes don't actually spin

The TPS measures approximately eight feet in diameter and weighs around 160 pounds. Given these immense figures, NASA’s engineers needed a specialized hoist to seat it into place.

The installation of the TPS on the Parker Solar Probe marks an essential milestone for the project, bringing it one step closer to completion. Assuming everything else goes according to plan, we could be looking at a launch attempt as early as August.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 30, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 30, 2018
NASA Officially Retires the Kepler Space Telescope
For more than nine-and-a-half years, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope helped curious astronomers on their quest to identify distant worlds. These words,...
OCT 31, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 31, 2018
ESA's European Service Module is Now Ready to be Shipped to the U.S.
Deep space exploration is slowly becoming the primary focus of major space agencies around the globe, and NASA’s Orion spacecraft is poised to become...
NOV 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 05, 2018
The Mystery Behind Oumuamua Continues...
Last year, Oumuamua became the first-known interstellar object to be identified by astronomers as it passed through our solar system. At first, astronomers...
NOV 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 07, 2018
Near-Twin of New Horizons' Ralph Instrument to Study Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids
If you followed along when NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past Pluto in July 2015, then you probably remember all the stunning photographs taken of t...
NOV 11, 2018
Technology
NOV 11, 2018
Laser Technology Seeks To Capture the Attention of Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Trying to capture the attention of alien astronomers sounds like pure pseudoscience or something ripped off the synopsis section of a science fiction novel...
DEC 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2018
After a Slight Delay, SpaceX's Christmas Delivery Arrives at the ISS
Three days after the official launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday with a sp...
Loading Comments...