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Saturday marks the day we finally send a spacecraft to the sun.
The Parker Solar Probe, named for the scientist who first theorized about the existence of solar winds, is expected to get as close as we've ever been to our local star. The goal is to collect data and images on the sun's atmosphere, called the "corona," Engadget reports.
Though the mission has affectionately been dubbed as one to "touch the sun," the probe won't quite go that far, Fox News explained. In reality, it will aim to eventually reach about 3.8 million miles away, well within the sun's atmosphere. While we don't have technology that would survive the sun's surface heat of 2 to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit, the Parker probe has heat shields that will protect it from the temperatures it will face, about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. (Icarus, take note.)
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NASA will use the data collected by the Parker probe in order to better prepare us for solar winds, which present problems for satellites and even our power grids here on Earth, Engadget explained. But these findings are going to take a long time — first, the Parker probe will have to orbit around the sun, getting closer and closer, for as many as seven years. By that time, it will be traveling at around 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object ever.
The Parker Solar Probe is expected to launch early Saturday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch window opens at 3:33 a.m. ET. You can watch it live on NASA TV, or read more about this historic launch at Engadget.
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