NASA postpones for 24 hours launch of historic spaceship to Sun

The spacecraft will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun. Pic John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

The spacecraft will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun. Pic John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

However, the corona of the Sun is about 300 times hotter than the Sun's surface and also it has a powerful plasma energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms and disrupt Earth's power grid. Its closest approach will be in 2024.

Sixty years ago, a young astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, proposed the existence of solar wind. He plans be at Cape Canaveral for the launch. It will hitch a ride into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, and an upper stage boost from the rocket will send it hurtling out of Earth's orbit and on a path to Venus, eventually moving at speeds up to 700,000 kmh (430,000 mph) - faster than any probe that came before it. He said he's "holding my breath that everything goes well".

Look for Facebook Live events throughout Friday from the Kennedy Space Center sharing a behind the scenes look at preparing for this and future missions.

"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, one of the project scientists and a professor at the University of MI.

But then, the launch of Nasa's Mariner 2 spacecraft in 1962 - becoming the first robotic spacecraft to make a successful planetary encounter - proved them wrong. Apart from Parker's photo and his research paper are more than 1 million names of space fans who submitted their named to Nasa this past spring. "With each orbit, we'll be seeing new regions of the sun's atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we've wanted to explore for decades."Over the course of its seven-year mission, the probe will orbit the sun 24 times, each time sweeping through the corona, where the temperature is a blistering 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 1,400 degrees Celsius)". The first Venus flyby is in October, followed by the first dip into the sun's corona in November.

Helios 2 got within 43 million km of the sun in 1976.

NASA's Messenger, which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015, provided insight into the solar wind but was too away. So really the only way we can now do it is to do this daring mission to plunge into the corona.

By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the unmanned probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around the Sun.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation here on Earth.

"It's a pretty tough shield", said Fox.

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