NASA will be celebrating its 60th birthday in 2018. The US space agency has planned some important missions lined up for the New Year. Among them, the most important and interesting one seems to be the mission to ‘touch’ the Sun. NASA has informed that it will be launching the Parker Solar Probe in July 2018 to study the outer atmosphere of the Sun.
According to NASA, the Parker Solar Probe will use the gravitational pull of the sister planet, Venus, to help it achieve close flyby to the outer corona of the sun. Using Venus’s gravity, the probe will do seven flybys in over seven years to bring itself close to Sun, as per NASA. In its closest approach, the probe will be almost 6.2 million kilometers away from the Sun’s Surface.
That means it will become the first-ever spacecraft to be so close to the sun and during its close flyby it will be well within the orbit of Mercury, the closest planet to Sun. The Parker Solar Probe will be performing various scientific investigations under the grueling, intense conditions of Sun’s atmosphere which is very hot and full of solar radiations. It seems to be a very challenging mission for NASA, but at the same time, its success will be a great achievement for the US space agency. According to NASA, the main objective of the probe is to figure out how energy and heat move through the Sun’s Corona and also to find out what is the driving force behind the accelerating solar wind and solar energy particles.
Other important missions of NASA lined up for 2018 include Insight Mars lander mission, the OSIRIS-Rex mission, the TESS mission, etc. The OSIRIS-Rex mission of NASA is aimed at bringing back to Earth a sample from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu for study. The InSight Mars lander will investigate the interior and subsurface of the Red Planet, and the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has been assigned the work of searching planets outside our Solar system by monitoring more than 200,000 bright, nearby stars.