Alabama science, tech are all over NASA’s new Parker Solar Probe

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Alabama science, tech are all over NASA’s new Parker Solar Probe‘AL.comNASA spacecraft rockets toward sun for closest look yet‘Fort Wayne Journal GazetteParker Solar Probe Mission Launches to Touch the Sun‘Sidney Herald LeaderParker Solar Probe launches on historic journey to touch the sun‘Science Daily

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida before dawn today aboard a rocket built in Decatur, Ala., and carrying a key scientific instrument built in Huntsville.

Delayed once on Saturday, the Sunday launch at 2:31 a.m. CDT appeared flawless. A few hours later, the missions operations manager reported that the spacecraft the size of a small car was healthy and operating normally.

“This mission truly marks humanity’s first visit to a star that will have implications not just here on Earth, but how we better understand our universe,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We’ve accomplished something that decades ago, lived solely in the realm of science fiction.”

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NASA spacecraft rockets toward sun for closest look yet

The tower structure for a Delta IV rocket rolls back for launch at complex 37 at the Kennedy Space Center, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

This long exposure photograph provided by NASA, shows the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket as it launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

In this photo provided by NASA, astrophysicist Eugene Parker, center, stands with NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, left, and United Launch Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Tory Bruno in front of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe onboard, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

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Parker Solar Probe Mission Launches to Touch the Sun

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission launched Aug. 11 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission will be the first to fly directly through the Sun’s corona ‘ the hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation in the Sun’s atmosphere that is visible during an eclipse. It will gather data that could help answer questions about solar physics that have puzzled scientists for decades. Gathering information about fundamental processes near the Sun can help improve our understanding of how our solar system’s star changes the space environment, where space weather can affect astronauts, interfere with satellite orbits, or damage spacecraft electronics.

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Parker Solar Probe launches on historic journey to touch the sun

The mission’s findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts on orbit, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, overwhelm power grids.

During the first week of its journey, the spacecraft will deploy its high-gain antenna and magnetometer boom. It also will perform the first of a two-part deployment of its electric field antennas. Instrument testing will begin in early September and last approximately four weeks, after which Parker Solar Probe can begin science operations.

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The Nastiest Feud in Science

Gerta Keller was waiting for me at the Mumbai airport so we could catch a flight to Hyderabad and go hunt rocks. ‘You won’t die,’ she told me cheerfully as soon as I’d said hello. ‘I’ll bring you back.’
Jumping ahead.
The impact theory provided an elegant solution to a prehistoric puzzle, and its steady march from hypothesis to fact offered a heartwarming story about the integrity of the scientific method. ‘This is nearly as close to a certainty as one can get in science,’ a planetary-science professor told Time magazine in an article on the crater’s discovery. In the years since, impacters say they have come even closer to total certainty

How hot is the Sun’s corona? How NASA’s Parker solar probe will keep its cool

An image of the sun taken in 1997 shows the hot temperatures of the corona (in lighter colors) compared to cooler temperatures of the surface of the sun (in darker colors).  (SOHO (ESA $ NASA))

If you think a sunny day here on Earth gets toasty, imagine how much hotter it would be if you were flying through the upper layers of the sun’s atmosphere.

The answer is a whole lot hotter, in the millions of degrees whether measured in Fahrenheit or Celsius, according to NASA. And that incredibly hot upper atmosphere is exactly where a new NASA spacecraft will head after its launch later this week.

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