It previously made headlines that NASA is planning a mission for 2018 to launch a probe closer to the Sun than we ever have previously.
The spacecraft will utilize new advancements in thermal technologies to enable the electronics inside the probe to operate at nearly room temperature as it orbits our star inside of its coronal layer, which reaches temperatures of well over 2,500º Fahrenheit.
Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
This is a huge feat, and to honor the mission, NASA has opted to name the mission after solar scientist Eugene Parker, who is well-known for his research into the properties of solar wind.
Previously known as the Solar Probe Plus, it has been officially rebranded as the Parker Solar Probe. NASA made the announcement earlier this week, but intends to keep the mission details of the project the same despite the different name.
“This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft for a living individual,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“It’s a testament to the importance of his body of work, founding a new field of science that also inspired my own research and many important science questions NASA continues to study and further understand every day. I’m very excited to be personally involved honoring a great man and his unprecedented legacy.”
NASA says the probe will be responsible for helping us learn more about the properties of our own star, such as the dynamics of its solar wind, the ways the magnetic field works, and the conditions inside of the coronal layer.
We’ve so far only been able to observe the Sun from afar, but by getting this close, we will be able to see things up close and in person, getting more realistic details and instrumental readings than ever thought possible.
It ought to be interesting to see what kind of information the Parker Solar Probe can gather on its mission, and more importantly, whether or not the probe can really withstand the radiation and temperatures it’s about to experience.