Science

NASA postpones launch of Parker Solar Probe

NASA postpones launch of Parker Solar Probe”

Saturday's launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV (four) rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the Parker Solar Probe.

NASA called off the launch of its ambitious Parker Solar Probe mission to the sun just minutes before an early-morning liftoff Saturday (Aug. 11) due to a glitch with the spacecraft's giant Delta IV Heavy rocket. The next launch window opens at 3:31 am (0731 UTC) on Sunday.

The Parker probe will have tools to measure the sun's expanding corona and its flowing atmosphere known as the solar wind, which was first discovered by solar physicist Eugene Parker in 1958.

It is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that can endure unprecedented levels of heat, and radiation 500 times that experienced on Earth.

The car-sized probe is created to give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.

The probe will fly through the sun's corona to gather data on the sun's great mysteries, such as the solar winds that create aurorae on Earth and disrupt satellites and power grids.

It is created to withstand heat of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, speeds of 700,000 kilometres per hour and a journey that will last seven years.

If everything goes according to plan, temperatures inside the spacecraft should be a mere 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The probe will make at least 24 passes around the sun, with gravity assists from Venus for seven of them, and continue going after that as long as it has propellant.

"We are ready. We have the flawless payload".

The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system.

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory.

The launch now is planned for Sunday, August 12, from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Reaching the required speed means the Parker Solar Probe needs one of the most powerful rockets ever built. When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from NY to Tokyo in one minute - some 688,000kmh - making it the fastest human-made object.



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