NASA delays launch of first ever solar probe

NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time

NASA is sending a spacecraft straight into the sun's glittering crown for the first time

NASA has postponed the launch of its first-ever probe to the sun due to a last-minute technical problem.

NASA says a red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, prompting the launch controller to order, "Hold, hold, hold".

NASA hopes the probe will help determine which parts of the sun are providing the energy source for solar winds and solar particles, and how they accelerate to such high speeds.

The probe will create history as it will become the first ever spacecraft to come closer in the orbit of the sun.

This image made available by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 depicts NASA's Solar Probe Plus spacecraft approaching the sun.

But the Parker Solar Probe was built to do just that.

The spacecraft will thoroughly study the corona - the region of the Sun only seen from Earth during total solar eclipses.

"We're in for some learning over the next several years", said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.

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NASA's car-sized, $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe will be launched from Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA's first mission to the sun - will expolore the sun's atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona. In the years ahead, it will gradually get within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the surface, its instruments protected from the extreme heat and radiation by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wizardry.

"I realise that might not sound that close, but imagine the Sun and the Earth were a metre apart".

"Scientists have sought these answers for more than 60 years, but the investigation requires sending a probe right through the 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit heat of the corona". "We're still three times closer than anything has been before".

"As we go from the surface of the Sun, which is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and move up into the corona, we find ourselves quickly at millions of degrees", he said. "The heating, particularly during stormy times when the sun has a lot of flares and activity, that's where one really doesn't know what we're going to find".

Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine".

"We will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission".

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