NASA plans robotic probe to Sun; wants to solve three important questions


US space agency NASA wants to send a mission to the Sun with the aim of solving some of the most perplexing questions about our host star.

The mission, if and when launched, will be the first ever dedicated solar mission that will fly to the Sun in search for answers to questions that have been baffling physicists and astronomers for years. The mission wouldn’t be flying to the surface of the Sun as that’s something impossible given the current technology we have, but it will fly to the Sun and remain at a safe distance from which it will be able to perform science experiments to understand the Sun.

One of the questions that needs answered is why the surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is not as hot as its atmosphere, called the corona. Studies have indicated that the surface temperature on Sun is 5,500 degrees Celsius and that’s way too less compared to the temperatures of the atmosphere of the Sun that is sizzling at a whopping two million degrees Celsius.

This difference in temperatures is massive and that in itself is a major why. Further, this doesn’t sit well with the general notion of “the farther you go from the source of heat, the colder it gets” and that’s why it a big puzzle.

Further NASA scientists are also looking for an answer to the question of how is solar wind gets its speed. The sun blows a stream of charged particles in all directions at a million miles an hour, but where do these winds get their speed is something that needs to be answered.

The mission may also ascertain why the Sun occasionally emits high-energy particles that are a danger to unprotected astronauts and spacecraft.

NASA has designed a 11.4 centimetres carbon-composite shield, which is designed to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft of 1,370 degrees Celsius.

The unmanned probe will have special heat tubes called thermal radiators that will radiate heat that permeates the heat shield to open space thereby preventing the instruments from damage.