Independent Verification and Validation support work for NASA's Parker Solar Probe (PSP) concluded Sunday with the successful launch of the spacecraft headed to the sun's atmosphere for a historic scientific discovery mission. "It's exciting to contribute to a mission that could solve some of the biggest mysteries about the physics of our solar system".
An article in the Dayton Daily News reads: While you were hopefully out enjoying some sunshine with family or friends over the weekend, you may not have known that NASA launched a probe atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida toward the sun.
The probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Newman Parker, will have to survive hard heat and radiation conditions.
"Our team has been working alongside NASA for five years to prepare this spacecraft for launch and a successful mission", said Mark Bruno, senior vice president of Engility's space and mission systems business.
Parker Solar Probe will be facing a lot of heat and radiation and will be absorbing temperatures as high as 2500 degree Fahrenheit. The heat resisting probe is very lightweight and weighs only 1400 pounds. That's why the Delta IV Heavy was used as it has more thrust than the normal ones. Once it reaches space, the craft needs to drop 53000 miles per hour of sideways motion to skim the sun's atmosphere. However, this is a lot more complex than it seems. It is set to fly into the Sun's corona within 3.8 million miles or 6.1 million km from the solar surface, seven times closer than any other spacecraft. In addition, the probe is created to automatically face its heat shield in the proper direction, and it also packs a radiator-based cooling system. Parker will reach 430,000 miles per hour on its final orbits, bolstered by the Sun's extreme gravity to become the fastest human-made object. The Parker Solar Probe will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun's corona. NASA hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth's space environment.