NASA’s getting ready to plunge a spacecraft deeper into the Sun than ever before

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#Nasa #SunNASA’s getting ready to plunge a spacecraft deeper into the Sun than ever before : NASA is one step closer in its mission to ‘touch’ the Sun. Last week, it announced that the Solar Probe Plus mission had passed a huge milestone, keeping it on track for a 2018 launch.

The Solar Probe Plus mission will start with the launch of a spaceship that will complete 24 orbits of the Sun. Then, after completing seven flybys of Venus to get closer and closer, the spacecraft will dive into the corona, or the outer atmosphere of the Sun.

The three closest orbits will be just under 6.4 million km (4 million miles) from the Sun’s surface – that’s seven times closer than any spacecraft has ever come to our neighbourhood fireball. That close to the Sun, the spacecraft will face 500 times as much solar intensity as a spacecraft orbiting Earth.

According to NASA, the spacecraft will collect data about solar activity, which will help scientists forecast major space-weather events, such as solar flares that impact life on Earth. These solar flares, or eruptions of high-energy radiation from the Sun, can damage satellites and power lines.

The primary goals for Solar Probe Plus include tracing the flow of energy from the corona, as well as understanding the heating of it. The mission will also investigate how solar winds (streams of charged and energetic particles flowing from the Sun) are accelerated.