NASA is creating history when its Parker Solar Probe blasts off on an epic mission to the Sun on Saturdy.
The Parker Solar Probe that will swoop through the Sun’s atmosphere 24 times, will carry more than scientific instruments on this historic journey. Moreover, it will also hold more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to go to the Sun.
Parker will blast off aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Back in March 2018, the public were invited to send their names to the Sun aboard humanity’s first mission to “touch” a star. A total of 1,137,202 names were submitted and confirmed over the seven-and-a-half-week period, and a memory card containing the names was installed on the spacecraft on May 18, 2018. n addition to a chip containing submitted names, the plaque installed on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft also contains a dedication to and quote from Eugene Parker, the mission’s namesake. It reads: “The Parker Solar Probe mission is dedicated to Dr. Eugene N. Parker whose profound contributions have revolutionized our understanding of the Sun and solar wind. ‘Let’s see what lies ahead’ Gene Parker, July 2017”
Two of the most fundamental mysteries – which scientists hope Parker Solar Probe will help solve – are the coronal heating problem and the mechanism behind solar wind acceleration.
Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living with a Star Program, or LWS, to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. LWS is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Heliophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Johns Hopkins APL manages the Parker Solar Probe mission for NASA. APL designed and built the spacecraft and will also operate it.