Tuesday March 26, 2019
Home Lead Story NASA Delays L...

NASA Delays Launch of Solar Probe

The heat shield is made of a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite foam material between two carbon fibre face sheets

0
//
Kepler, NASA, tissue
NASA to use Blockchain technology for air traffic management. Pixabay

NASA on Saturday scrubbed the scheduled launch of its historic small car-size probe to “touch the Sun” from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The agency is now targeting Sunday for the launch of the spacecraft which is designed to NASAgo all the way to the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona — closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

“This morning’s launch of @NASASun’s #ParkerSolarProbe was scrubbed. Launch teams will attempt to launch on Sunday morning,” NASA said in a tweet on Saturday.

The probe is named after Eugene Parker, a solar physicist who in 1958 first predicted the existence of the solar wind, the stream of charged particles and magnetic fields that flow continuously from the Sun.

Nestled atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy — one of the world’s most powerful rockets — with a third stage added, Parker Solar Probe will blast off toward the Sun with a whopping 55 times more energy than is required to reach Mars.

Weighing just 635 kgs, it is a relatively light spacecraft, Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US, said in an earlier statement issued by NASA.

NASA
This morning’s launch of @NASASun’s #ParkerSolarProbe was scrubbed. Launch teams will attempt to launch on Sunday morning. Flickr

“And it needs to be, because it takes an immense amount of energy to get to our final orbit around the Sun,” Driesman added.

Zooming through space in a highly elliptical orbit, the Parker Solar Probe will reach speeds of up to 700,000 kms per hour, setting the record for the fastest spacecraft in history.

During its nominal mission lifetime of just under seven years, the Parker Solar Probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun — reaching within 3.8 million miles of the Sun’s surface at the closest approach.

In an orbit this close to the Sun, the real challenge is to keep the spacecraft from burning up.

You May Also Like to Read About The History of Curiosity Rover: Curiosity Rover Completes 6 Years On Mars: NASA

“Recent advances in materials science gave us the material to fashion a heat shield in front of the spacecraft not only to withstand the extreme heat of the Sun, but to remain cool on the backside,” said Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for the Parker Solar Probe at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The heat shield is made of a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite foam material between two carbon fibre face sheets.

At the Parker Solar Probe’s closest approach to the Sun, temperatures on the heat shield will reach nearly 1,371 degrees Celsius, but the spacecraft and its instruments will be kept at a relatively comfortable temperature of about 29.4 degrees Celsius. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Due to Lack of Small Spacesuit

"An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen"

0
NASA, women, space suit
U.S. astronaut Anne McClain waves before the launch of Soyuz MS-11 space ship at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

What should have been a giant leap for womankind has turned into a stumble on the path to equality after U.S. space agency NASA canceled the first all-female spacewalk due to a lack of a spacesuit in the right size.

Anne McClain and Christina Koch had been due to step into history books in a spacewalk Friday, during the final week of Women’s History Month.

But McClain will now give up her place on the mission to her male colleague Nick Hague, NASA announced late Monday.

“Mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA, spacesuit, women
FILE – U.S. astronaut Christina Koch attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts’ Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

“McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”

Nearly 60 years after the first human blasted off into space, less than 11 percent of the 500 plus people who have traveled to space have been women, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female.

McClain and Koch were both part of the 2013 NASA class that was 50 percent women.

NASA said the decision to change the plan was made in consultation with McClain after a spacewalk last week.

“Anne trained in M and L and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better,” wrote spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz on Twitter.

nasa, women, space walk
The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue. Pixabay

“In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.”

The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

ALSO READ: Possibilities of UN Banning Killer Robots Looking Growingly Remote

Others said they were sad that a milestone moment on women’s space exploration had been deferred, but safety came first.

“I’m super disappointed about the all-woman spacewalk not happening as scheduled this Friday but I’m also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say ‘I would be safer using a different piece of equipment’,” wrote Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at the U.S. nonprofit The Planetary Society.

“An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen.” (VOA)