NASA is accepting passengers until April 27 and then will load their names onto a memory card that will go onto the probe. In May 2017, NASA renamed the shuttle from the Solar Probe Plus to the Parker Solar Probe out of appreciation for astrophysicist Eugene Parker.
"This test will trip to a locale humankind has never investigated", said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Once launched this summer from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the probe will eventually come within 4 million miles of our star, closer than any other spacecraft. "This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades", he added.
The spacecraft is about the size of a small vehicle and will travel directly into the Sun's "atmosphere" to a distance of about 4 million miles from the star's surface.
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The study of how the sun affects space and the environment of planets, known in scientific terms as heliophysics, has always been a priority for scientists.
The probe is scheduled to launch this summer and will head straight for the sun, getting closer than any spacecraft has ever gotten before.
This state-of-the-art heat shield will protect instruments created to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and capture footage of the solar wind at room temperature. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what's going on in the solar wind.
NASA is doing this to raise public awareness for the breakthrough mission, which may possibly change the landscape of human knowledge on the sun and the solar system.
The spacecraft speed is so fast, at its closest approach it will be going at approximately 430,000 miles per hour. NASA has mentioned that it will aid the spacecraft and the instruments with a 4.5-inch thick coating of the Carbon-Composite shield which will take care of the intensity of heat that will prevail outside the spacecraft. In a similar opportunity where NASA offered the chance to have names etched into a microchip heading for Mars, over 2.4 million people from around the world signed up for the journey. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland, deals with the Parker Solar Probe mission for NASA. APL is designing and building the spacecraft and will also operate it.