NASA has announced its first mission to fly directly into our sun’s atmosphere.
The mission, Solar Probe Plus, is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2018.
Placed in orbit within four million miles of the sun’s surface, and facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the spacecraft will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work.
The resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace the flow of energy and understand the heating of the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind. ‘Solar Probe Plus’ provides a statistical survey of the outer corona.
‘Solar Probe Plus’ has three detailed science objectives:
1. Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
2. Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
3. Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.