The Parker Solar Probe –  Dive Into The Sun – Narrated Documentary
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The Parker Solar Probe – Dive Into The Sun – Narrated Documentary

The Parker Solar Probe is an historic
mission flying into the Sun’s corona for the first time, exploring the last and
most important region of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft. The
Sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying our star we can learn
more about stars throughout the universe. The Sun is a source of light and heat
for life on earth. The more we know about it
the more we can understand how life on Earth developed. The Sun is also the
source of the solar wind, a flow of ionized gases from the Sun that stream
past earth at speeds of more than 500 km/s, a million miles per hour.
Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the
radiation belts. This is known as space weather. Space weather can change the orbits of
satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The
more we learn about what causes space weather and how to predict it, The more
we can protect the satellites we depend on. Less than 60 minutes after launch, the
spacecraft separates from the launch vehicle, and begins the post separation
sequence. It will rotate itself to point at the
Sun. The solar arrays will open. The extraordinary heat of the Sun will
be the spacecraft’s most intense challenge. At its closest approach to the
Sun the front of the probe’s Solar shield faces thousands of degrees of heat. The spacecraft and instruments are
protected from the sun’s heat by the thermal protection system, TPS,
a four and a half inch thick, 8 foot wide carbon composite graphic sheet
affixed to carbon foam blocks. Because the carbon composite shield is such a
poor conductor of heat, the spacecraft and scientific instruments behind it
will stay about room temperature, protecting most of the spacecraft’s
components from the brunt of the heat encountered near the Sun. The probe will
maneuver itself to keep the heat shield facing the Sun. Today’s cutting-edge
thermal engineering advances make it possible to offer this kind of
protection from heat and radiation. The solar arrays will retract behind the
protective shield as the spacecraft approaches the Sun. And extend as the spacecraft retreats
from the Sun. The very outermost edges of the solar arrays are bent upward. And
when the spacecraft is closest to the Sun, small slivers of array will be
extended beyond the protection of the heat shield, in order to produce enough
power for the spacecraft systems. The incredible heat of our Sun would damage
conventional spacecraft arrays so a first of its kind, actively cooled solar
array system was developed. During approach to the Sun, very small changes
in the wing angle of the solar array can vastly change cooling requirements. Just
one degree change in the array angle of one wing would require 35% more cooling
capacity. The parker Solar Probe carries four instrument suites designed to study
and photograph the sun’s structure, magnetic fields, plasma and energetic
particles, and image the solar wind. The spacecraft systems and scientific
instruments are located in the central portion of the shield’s shadow where
direct radiation from the Sun is fully blocked. NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe
mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun. The Parker
Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere closer to the surface
than any spacecraft ever before. It will face brutal heat and radiation hundreds
of times higher than here on earth. The probe will orbit closer and closer
to the Sun by using Venus’s gravity, completing seven flybys of Venus over
seven years, to bring its orbits closer to the Sun each time. At its closest
approach, the Parker Solar Probe hurtles around the Sun at 450,000 miles
per hour – making it the fastest man-made object ever. The probe will zoom close to
the Sun 24 times between 2018 and 2025 gathering a variety of data about the
sun’s structure and magnetic and electrical fields. The probe will operate
in the very hazardous region of the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere
known as the corona for the first time. The corona, made up of highly ionized
elements like iron helium and calcium is so hot that the Sun’s gravity can’t hold
on to it. It will help scientists understand why the sun’s outer
atmosphere is more than 200 times hotter than the sun’s surface. It will fly close
enough to the Sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to
supersonic. It will give scientists a better understanding of how and why this
acceleration happens so that we may be able to predict when it will happen. The
probe will fly through the birthplace of the highest energy solar particles. It
will spend a total of 30 hours within the corona before NASA turns off its
transmitter and leaves it to its fate. And it will be a fiery one. The
spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.7 million miles
from our star’s surface which is well inside Mercury’s orbit, and 7 times
closer than any spacecraft that has come before. The earth is 93 million miles
from the Sun so 3.7 million miles will be very close. In fact the Parker Solar
Probe will be more than ten times closer to the Sun
than mercury. Because of our increasing dependence on
technology and satellites, this study of our Sun will also help researchers
predict and prepare for solar weather events. Without advanced warning, severe
solar weather events could cause $2 trillion dollars in damage in the US
alone and the eastern seaboard of the u.s. could be without power for a year. The Parker Solar Probe will provide
humanity with the closest ever observations of any star.


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