NASA postpones for 24 hours launch of historic spaceship to Sun

NASA postpones for 24 hours launch of historic spaceship to Sun

According to NASA, the forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favourable weather conditions for launch. He's now 91 and eager to see the solar probe soar.

Engineers are taking utmost caution with the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe, which Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, described as one of the agency's most "strategically important missions".

NASA early Saturday scrubbed its planned launch of humankind's first probe to the sun, planning to try again Sunday morning.

A $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere within 6.4 million km of the huge hot star repeatedly, gathering key insights about solar structure, activity, atmosphere, solar winds and other features.

With just one minute, 55 seconds remaining for NASA's Parker Solar Probe to lift off, the launch controller shouted, "Hold, hold, hold".

The problem had to do with the gaseous helium pressure alarm on the spacecraft, officials said early today.

Scientists hope the mission will be able to provide answers as to why the corona is 300 times hotter than the surface of the sun, a phenomenon that Nasa says is in "defiance of all logic" because "its atmosphere gets much, much hotter the farther it stretches from the sun's blazing surface".

Once launched, the Parker solar probe may contend with temperatures upwards of 2500 degrees Fahrenheit (1371 C) when it reaches the sun's atmosphere - also known as the corona.

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When it runs out of fuel, it will stay in the sun's orbit in perpetuity.

"The sun is full of mysteries", said Nicky Fox, project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

The goal for the Parker Solar Probe is to make 24 passes through the corona during its seven-year mission.

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

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

The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick. It's the first time NASA mission has been named after a living person. The current close-to-the-sun champ, NASA's former Helios 2, got within 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) in 1976.

But it can withstand 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) as well as extreme radiation, thanks to its high-tech carbon.