The Viking Mars missions and the Voyager probes of the outer solar system were tough enough. But sending a probe to the sun seemed out of the question thanks to high velocity streams of lava coming from every direction and extremely chaotic turbulence.
But Bill Matthaeus, a space plasma physicist at the University of Delaware has been working with NASA since 2005 to overcome those challenges. The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) Mission is due to launch this weekend and Matthaeus and his UD team will be there--including students who published research predicting conditions the PSP will encounter at three critical phases of the seven-year mission.
The car-sized craft will reach speeds in excess of 400,000 MPH, making it the fastest probe ever.
The PSP will get within 4M miles of the sun, more than five times closer than the previous record set by the Helios spacecraft.
It will offer a first glimpse of regions of solar wind, helping us understand how the sun's atmosphere affects the space environment, satellites and electronics.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to speak with members of the team.