In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Solar Probe Plus to touch the sun.
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace the flow of energy and understand the heating of the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind. Solar Probe Plus provides a statistical survey of the outer corona.
Solar Probe Plus has three detailed science objectives:
|Dates:||Jul 31 – Aug 19, 2018 (20 days)|
|Max. Launch C3:||154 km2/s2|
|Launch Vehicle:||Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage|
Launch Window: July 31 – August 19, 2018
Solar Probe Plus will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun, coming as close as 3.7 million miles (5.9 million kilometers) to the sun, well within the orbit of Mercury and about eight times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
Solar Probe Plus is a true mission of exploration; for example, the spacecraft will go close enough to the sun to watch the solar wind speed up from subsonic to supersonic, and it will fly though the birthplace of the highest-energy solar particles. Still, as with any great mission of discovery, Solar Probe Plus is likely to generate more questions than it answers.
Solar Probe Plus will be a historic mission, flying into the sun's atmosphere (or corona) for the first time. Coming closer to the sun than any previous spacecraft, Solar Probe Plus will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to achieve the mission's primary scientific goal: to understand how the sun's corona is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated. Solar Probe Plus will revolutionize our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.
Mission duration: 6 yrs, 11 months
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