NASA postpones for 24 hours launch of historic spaceship to Sun

An artist's conception of NASA's Parker Solar Probe

An artist's conception of NASA's Parker Solar Probe

Poking out over the heat shield, an instrument known as the Faraday cup will take measurements of the solar winds, a flow of ionised gases from the sun that streams past Earth at a million miles per hour. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time this evening to go troubleshoot that and try again for a launch.

"Where we see huge magnetic fields that are passing by us, as coronal mass ejections make their way out into the solar system".

The engineers are taking utmost caution with the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe, which Thomas Zurbuchen, head of Nasa's science mission directorate, described as one of the agency's most "strategically important missions".

Knowing more about the solar wind and space storms will also help protect future deep space explorers as they journey toward the Moon or Mars.

To handle the heat it has been covered with a special 4.5 inch (11.3 cm) thick carbon-composite shield capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,650C (3,002F).

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 United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back
Parker Solar Probe launch delayed until Sunday

The probe will be controlled from the Mission Operations Centre based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL), which is where NASA handles its unmanned missions. "We know the questions we want to answer.".

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory. During the original countdown procedure for the planned 3:33 a.m. EDT (0733 GMT) launch, mission control staff held at T-4 due to anomalies in data being provided by the rocket, but had then indicated they would still attempt the launch.

"Parker Solar Probe uses Venus to adjust its course and slow down in order to put the spacecraft on the best trajectory", said Driesman.

After it launches, the probe will travel at 430,000mph, the fastest speed ever achieved by a spacecraft.

"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", Fox added.

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