UPDATE: NASA postpones launch of Parker Solar Probe
12 August, 2018, 23:47
NASA on Saturday postponed the launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, created to probe the Sun.
As soon as the red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, a launch controller ordered, "Hold, hold, hold". The mission is now scheduled for no earlier than Sunday, Aug. 12, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT) during a window that will remain open for 65 minutes.
When it does launch, the Parker Solar Probe will get as close as 3.83 million miles to the sun's surface.
The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent to up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation on Earth.
"Eight long years of hard work by countless engineers and scientists is finally paying off", Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.
The powerful Delta 4 Heavy and a solid-propellant upper stage will provide the energy needed to counteract Earth's 18-mile-per-second orbital velocity, allowing the Parker Solar Probe to fall into the inner solar system.
NASA has delayed the launch of a probe which will make a series of unprecedented orbits of the sun.
The probe is equipped with a 4 1/2-inch thick carbon-carbon heat shield created to withstand temperatures of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The probe is created to plunge into the Sun's mysterious atmosphere, known as the corona, coming within 6.16 million kilometres of its surface during a seven-year mission.
Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory.
After it launches, the probe will travel at 430,000mph, the fastest speed ever achieved by a spacecraft.
The probe is protected by a 4in-thick shield that constantly repositions itself between the sun's power and the scientific instruments on board.
"We will also be listening for plasma waves that we know flow around when particles move", Fox added.
Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine". When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 688,000kmh - making it the fastest human-made object.
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The launch was originally set for Saturday morning, but was scrubbed at the last minute due to technical glitches. The Parker Solar Probe is completely dependent on its directional heat shield for survival.
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