NASA is about to launch a spacecraft toward our sun, and you'll be amazed at what they're going to try to do with it.
NASA has huge plans for our closest star, launching one of the most ambitious missions in years: the Solar Probe Plus. The space agency will be sending that spacecraft within four million miles of the sun in 2018, an incredibly close distance considering the fact that our Earth is 93 million miles away.
Scientists are hoping to use the probe to gather data to help forecast space weather events that affect Earth, like solar flares and storms that knock out communications on Earth and can cause quite a bit of damage. It would be the closest manmade object to the sun ever if the mission is successful, and it will be seven times closer than any spacecraft has ever come to the sun.
NASA hopes to launch the probe between July 31 and Aug. 18 in 2018, according to reports. The mission should last around seven years. The probe will get an assist from Venus, using seven flybys to gradually get closer to the sun until it reaches the ideal point.
“Solar Probe Plus will be an extraordinary and historic mission, exploring what is arguably the last region of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft, the Sun’s outer atmosphere or corona as it extends out into space,” NASA says on its website. “Solar Probe Plus will repeatedly sample the near-Sun environment, revolutionizing our knowledge and understanding of coronal heating and of the origin and evolution of the solar wind and answering critical questions in heliophysics that have been ranked as top priorities for decades. Moreover, by making direct, in-situ measurements of the region where some of the most hazardous solar energetic particles are energized, Solar Probe Plus will make a fundamental contribution to our ability to characterize and forecast the radiation environment in which future space explorers will work and live.”