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Diana Whitcroft
NASA Sets Its Sights On A New Frontier—A Mission To The Sun

Since 1958 NASA's core mission has been to look to the stars, but since they were founded, budgetary and technological constraints have prevented NASA scientists from exploring the star closest to home. After 60 years of exploration, however, NASA is finally going to the sun. The solar mission is intended to answer a number of mysteries about the sun, including why the sun's corona is 300 times hotter than the surface. Ultimately scientists want to learn about solar radiation to build models that will help protect electrical grids from unpredictable solar flares.

Engineered and built by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to launch on July 31 aboard a Delta IV rocket. The seven-year mission will slingshot the probe in orbit around Venus as it takes measurements of the sun's atmosphere, or corona, just 3.83 million miles from the star. That's seven times closer than any other craft has reached before, and the probe is encased in carbon foam to help withstand the solar heat, which will reach up to 2,500 F. 

Today, NASA unveiled the probe and announced its mission:

Excited by the news, many people let their nerd flags fly:

And some had already signed up to travel with the Parker probe on its journey to the sun:

A few even offered some advice to help ensure the mission's success:

No one knows what the mission will discover, but for now it's a sunny forecast for the Parker probe.