Wednesday March 20, 2019
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NASA Readies Probe to Touch the Sun With ‘Cutting-Edge Heat Shield’

The eight-foot-diameter heat shield will safeguard everything within its umbra, the shadow it casts on the spacecraft, NASA said

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NASA, Microsoft
After lettuce, astronauts could grow beans in space in 2021. Pixabay

Ahead of its August launch, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe — the mission aiming to get closest to the Sun than ever by any human-made object — has got its “revolutionary” heat shield permanently attached to the spacecraft, the US space agency said.

The probe’s heat shield — called the Thermal Protection System, or TPS — was reinstalled on the spacecraft on June 27, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.

The reinstallation of the heat shield — which was briefly attached to the spacecraft during testing in the autumn of 2017 — marks the first time in months that Parker Solar Probe has been fully integrated.

A mission 60 years in the making, Parker Solar Probe will make a historic journey to the Sun’s corona, a region of the solar atmosphere.

With the help of its heat shield, the spacecraft’s orbit will carry it to within four million miles of the Sun’s fiercely hot surface, where it will collect data about the inner workings of the corona.

NASA-heat-shield
Representational image. (IANS)

The eight-foot-diameter heat shield will safeguard everything within its umbra, the shadow it casts on the spacecraft, NASA said.

At 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.

The heat shield is made of two panels of superheated carbon-carbon composite sandwiching a lightweight 4.5-inch-thick carbon foam core.

Also Read: NASA to Soon Start Testing ‘quiet’ Supersonic Flights over Texas

The Sun-facing side of the heat shield is also sprayed with a specially formulated white coating to reflect as much of the Sun’s energy away from the spacecraft as possible.

Because Parker Solar Probe travels so fast — 69,2018 km per hour at its closest approach to the Sun, fast enough to travel from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, in about one second — the shield and spacecraft have to be light to achieve the needed orbit.

The heat shield itself weighs only about 72.5 kg, NASA said. (IANS)

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NASA Reveals First Person on Mars ‘is Likely to be a Woman’

NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA's astronaut corps

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NASA, mars
NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency. Pixabay

The first person on Mars is ‘likely to be a woman’, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has said.

“It’s likely to be a woman, the first next person on the Moon. It’s also true that the first person on Mars is likely to be a woman,” CNN cited Bridenstine as saying on a science and technology radio talk show “Science Friday”.

The NASA administrator did not identify a specific person but said women are at the forefront of the agency’s upcoming plans.

NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency.

NASA, mars
NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA’s astronaut corps. Currently, women comprise 34 per cent of its active astronauts, according to the agency. Pixabay

“So these are great days. We have the first all-female spacewalk happening this month at the end of March, which is of course, National Women’s Month,” Bridenstine said.

Both McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women. They came from the second largest applicant pool NASA has ever received — more than 6,100. The most recent class of flight directors was also 50 per cent women, NASA said.

 

ALSO READ: NASA’s Future Scientists Would Likely Be Better Equipped To Study The Lunar Material

NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA’s astronaut corps. Currently, women comprise 34 per cent of its active astronauts, according to the agency.

“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” Bridenstine said. (IANS)