Don't you just love how the sun greets you a good morning and disturbs your happy and cozy sleep? Don't you just giddily greet it back with a huge smile as it disrupts your beautiful dream of finally getting along with somebody you really like? There are many reasons to thank it then, right?
Kidding aside, the sun is the most influential body in our cosmic vicinity which is very important in all life on Earth
. And now, scientists from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are creating a spacecraft to attempt to boldly go where no one has gone before
and "touch" this scorching star. The Solar Probe Plus or SPP will soon be flying through the sun's corona for the first time ever. Again, no spacecraft has ever done this and such ambitious mission would be the closest thing to get to the head of our solar family if successful- even closer than NASA's Helios 2 probe in 1976.
It will be launched in the summer of 2018. "We've been waiting an awfully long time to go touch the Sun. It's the last major region in the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft, and it's an important region, because the Sun is the center of the solar system, and our life depends on it. All the planets get affected by it in some way or another," Nicola Fox, SPP project scientist, told Motherboard
. The spacecraft will go through altitudes of 5.9 million kilometers above the sun's surface.
Not only will it be the closest man-made structure to the sun, it will also be the fastest. Going at a speed faster than 450,000 miles per hour, you could go from Philadelphia to Washington DC in just a second! The SPP will also flyby the planet Venus seven times over the course of seven years, going closer and closer to the sun.
With the help of Thermal Protection System (TPS), it can handle both the hotness and coldness of the vast space! Measuring eight feet in diameter and 4.5 inches thick, the TPS is constructed from lightweight carbon-carbon foam wedged between two facesheets. It's also 97% air, so it meets the weight restrictions of 16 pounds.
The mission project aims to investigate the questions about the solar wind and how it's hotter than the surface of the sun. "There are a few major mysteries with the Sun and the solar wind," Fox said. "One is that the corona—the atmosphere that you see around the Sun during a solar eclipse—is actually hotter than the surface of the Sun. So, that kind of defies the laws of physics. It just shouldn't happen."