Rocket fault delays the launch of Nasa’s solar probe

Parker Solar Probe launch delayed until Sunday

NASA has delayed the launch of a probe which will make a series of unprecedented orbits of the sun.

Unlike a campfire, which feels hottest at the source, the heat from the Sun gets more intense further away from its surface.

Parker will help us better understand how the Sun works.

Understanding how the corona works will help scientists anticipate unsafe space weather storms, which can disrupt the power grid on Earth.

The spacecraft is protected by a heat shield that will keep it closer to room temperature, about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA needed the mighty 23-story rocket, plus a third stage, to get the Parker probe - the size of a small vehicle and well under a ton - racing toward the sun, 93 million miles (150 million kilometres) from Earth.

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, a project scientist and professor at the University of MI.

"It's of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict space weather much the way we predict weather on Earth", explained Alex Young, a solar scientist at NASA.

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NASA's first mission to the sun - will expolore the sun's atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona.

NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission will attempt to fly closer to the sun and faster than any other spacecraft in history.

"The only way we can do that is to finally go up and touch the sun", said project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University.

NASA has postponed until Sunday the launch of its unmanned Parker Solar Probe, to allow engineers more time to investigate a red flag that was raised in the last moment before liftoff.

The device will measure the electromagnetic field of the Sun and determine the nature of the particles emitted by the star. "Some high-energy solar particles accelerate to almost half the speed of light, and we don't know why". "But we have to go there".

Along with being the first spacecraft to fly that close to a star, Parker also will be the fastest, streaking through the outer corona at some 430,000 miles per hour - fast enough to fly from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in less than one minute.

The spacecraft is named after 91-year old solar physicist Eugene Parker, 91, who was the first scientist to describe solar wind in 1958.

The Parker Solar Probe is equipped with four instruments. We've studied it from missions that are close in, even as close as the planet Mercury. Its water-cooled solar panels will be retracted behind the heat shield during close approach with just the tips exposed to the blazing light - and heat - of the sun.

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