Houston Matters

NASA’s Day In The Sun: Probe Takes Us Closer Than Ever To Our Star

David Alexander of the Rice Space Institutes tells Houston Matters about the new Parker Solar Probe, which will travel within 3.8 million miles of the sun.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will travel within 3.8 million miles of the sun’s surface.

Next week, NASA is planning to launch a probe somewhere humanity has never explored: inside the sun’s atmosphere.

The launch of the Parker Solar Probe marks the beginning of a mission some four decades in the making. The probe will reach within the sun’s million-degree atmosphere, getting as close at 3.8 million miles from its surface.

To put that in perspective, the Earth is nearly 93 million miles from the sun. So, that means the Parker Solar Probe will travel roughly 95 percent of the way to the sun.

How is the probe able to travel safely to such a relatively close distance from the sun – why won’t it melt? And what do scientists hope to learn from it?

David Alexander, the director of the Rice Space Institute, joins Houston Matters to explain.

David Alexander
David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute.

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