To touch the Sun

The big “space” news this week is that NASA has announced that they renamed the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft the “Parker Solar Probe” in honor of Eugene N. Parker, the astrophysicist from the University of Chicago who predicted the solar wind. The probe is scheduled to launch next summer and become the first mission to fly the upper atmosphere and thus “touch” the sun. Here’s a short video from NASA that explains the announcement and mission.

Here’s where you can learn more about the announcement and mission.
NASA Renames Solar Probe Mission to Honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker (NASA)
Parker Solar Probe (NASA)
NASA Is Building a Spacecraft That Will Fly Into the Sun’s Atmosphere ( Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics)
Newly Named NASA Spacecraft Will Aim Straight for the Sun (Kenneth Chang, New York Times)
U.S. probe to make unprecedented plunge into sun’s atmosphere (Irene Klotz, Reuters)
Parker Solar Probe (Wikipedia)

I can’t help wishing that they had somehow been able to name the probe Icarus (Wikipedia), but I can see the many reasons why they didn’t. The probe’s new name is more than worthy, and now we can look forward to learning a lot more about our Sun in the future!

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