NASA delays launch of Parker Solar Probe 24 hours

Parker Solar Probe launch delayed until Sunday

UPDATE: NASA postpones launch of Parker Solar Probe

The launch of NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe atop a heavy-lift Delta 4 Heavy rocket was scrubbed at the last minute early Saturday because of a technical glitch that could not be resolved before the launch window closed.

With one minute and 55 seconds left on the countdown timer, a launch controller ordered "Hold, hold, hold" when a pressure alarm sounded, showing that there was a fault with the Delta IV Heavy rocket's helium system. Saturday's launch window for the Parker Solar Probe opened at 3:33 a.m.

As the Parker Solar Probe probe orbits the sun, it will experience extreme radiation and temperatures as high as 1,377C (2,510F) - close to the melting point of steel. The shield is also built to sustain solar radiation levels 500 times greater than those that reach Earth.

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, one of the project scientists and a professor at the University of MI.

The probe will fly through the sun's corona to gather data on the sun's great mysteries, such as the solar winds that create aurorae on Earth and disrupt satellites and power grids.

The probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around Sun.

The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick.

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It is created to withstand heat of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, speeds of 700,000 kilometres per hour and a journey that will last seven years.

Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 deg F.

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.

The tools on board will measure the expanding corona and continually flowing atmosphere known as the solar wind, which solar physicist Eugene Parker first described in 1958.

After it launches, the probe will travel at 430,000mph, the fastest speed ever achieved by a spacecraft.

"Parker Solar Probe uses Venus to adjust its course and slow down in order to put the spacecraft on the best trajectory", said Driesman.

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