The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is expected to announce on Wednesday the details and launch of its first Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, which will fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is expected to leave Earth next summer during a 20-day window – between July 31 and August 19, 2018 – reported Time magazine.
According to a statement by Nasa, the spacecraft will orbit “within 4 million miles (6.4 million kilometres) of the sun’s surface.” The probe will “face heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history,” the statement added.
“[Solar Probe Plus] will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work,” the statement said.
It added that the data obtained will help in improving forecasts of major space-weather events that have a direct impact on life on earth and will also help satellites and astronauts in space. The ship will move at 7,24,000 kmph at its peak speed.
In 1976, the Helios 2 spacecraft managed to reach 27 million miles (43 million km) near the solar inferno, the closest a spacecraft has managed to do so far.