Watch NASA’s historic Sun probe mission launch: here’s how

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Over the next seven years, as it circles the sun, the probe will wrap around Venus seven times, each time slowing down and swooping closer to the sun.

It's created to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that's capable of withstanding 1,370 degrees Celsius.

Not only is the corona about 300 times hotter than the Sun's surface, it also hurls powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms, wreaking havoc on Earth by disrupting the power grid. Ultimately, it will find itself within the outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere, an area known as the corona.

"There are missions that are studying the solar wind, but we're going to get to the birthplace", Fox said.

Our yellow dwarf star is, in many ways, a mystery.

"As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean".

Sixty years ago, a young astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, proposed the existence of solar wind.

An illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun
An illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun

This is the first NASA spacecraft to be named after someone still alive.

The probe will blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37.

The spacecraft holds photos of Parker as well as a copy of his 1958 research paper on what he termed solar wind.

The probe, which was designed and built by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, is also carrying more than 1.1 million names to the Sun. The first Venus flyby is in October, followed by the first dip into the sun's corona in November.

Though the side facing the Sun will reach 2500F, the probe itself will be cooler at 85F, says NASA. So really the only way we can now do it is to do this daring mission to plunge into the corona. During its elliptical orbit, the Parker Solar Probe will make it up to 430,000mph, which would be a new speed record.

On Saturday, the space agency's Parker Solar Probe is expected to launch to orbit, beginning its long and winding journey that will eventually allow humanity to touch our nearest star for the first time.

"And last but not least, we have a white light imager that is taking images of the atmosphere right in front of the Sun".

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