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Parker Solar Probe is shown as it was mated to the third stage rocket motor on July 11, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.

Parker Solar Probe Named Popular Science’s 2018 Innovation of the Year

Posted on 11/28/2018 15:00:58

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe – humanity’s first mission to “touch” the Sun – was today named the innovation of the year by Popular Science. The revolutionary spacecraft – designed, built, and operated for NASA by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland – launched on August 12, 2018.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Reports First Telemetry, Acquisition of Science Data Since Perihelion

Posted on 11/20/2018 11:00:31

On Nov. 16, Parker Solar Probe reported that all systems are operating well in the first detailed performance and health update sent to Earth by the spacecraft since its first solar encounter.

Members of the Parker Solar Probe mission team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland celebrate on Nov. 7, 2018, after receiving a beacon indicating the spacecraft is in good health following its first perihelion.

Parker Solar Probe Reports Good Status After Close Solar Approach

Posted on 11/07/2018 17:13:45

Parker Solar Probe is alive and well after skimming by the Sun at just 15 million miles from our star's surface. This is far closer than any spacecraft has ever gone — the previous record was set by Helios B in 1976 and broken by Parker on Oct.

First perihelion is expected at about 10:28 p.m. EST on Nov. 5. The spacecraft will come within 15 million miles of the Sun's surface and clock in at a top speed of 213,200 miles per hour relative to the Sun — setting new records for both closest solar approach and top heliocentric speed by a spacecraft.

First Perihelion: Into the Unknown

Posted on 11/02/2018 13:03:12

At about 10:28 p.m. EST on Nov. 5, Parker Solar Probe will achieve its first perihelion - its first close approach to the Sun - and will come within 15 million miles of the Sun's surface.

Plot of Parker Solar Probe's location on Oct. 31, 2018 as it began its first solar encounter.

Parker Solar Probe Starts First Solar Encounter

Posted on 10/31/2018 13:32:08

On Oct. 31, 2018, Parker Solar Probe began its first of 24 solar encounters. This period — which lasts until Nov. 11 — is the time during which the spacecraft is within 0.25 astronomical units, or 23.2 million miles, of the Sun's center.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Becomes Fastest-Ever Spacecraft

Posted on 10/30/2018 05:56:58

At about 10:54 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, Parker Solar Probe surpassed 153,454 miles per hour — as calculated by the mission team — making it the fastest-ever human-made object relative to the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe Breaks Record, Becomes Closest Spacecraft to Sun

Posted on 10/29/2018 13:06:31

Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun's surface on Oct.

The view from Parker Solar Probe's WISPR instrument on Sept. 25, 2018, shows Earth, the bright sphere near the middle of the right-hand panel. The elongated mark towards the bottom of the panel is a lens reflection from the WISPR instrument.

Parker Solar Probe Looks Back at Home

Posted on 10/24/2018 13:30:20

On Sept. 25, 2018, Parker Solar Probe captured a view of Earth as it sped toward the first Venus gravity assist of the mission. Earth is the bright, round object visible in the right side of the image.

Members of the Parker Solar Probe team examine and align one of the two solar arrays that will power the spacecraft during its seven-year mission to the Sun. The solar arrays are cooled by a gallon of water that circulates through small tubes in the arrays and into large radiators at the top of the spacecraft.

In First for a Spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe Autonomously Manages Heat Load on Solar Arrays

Posted on 10/17/2018 11:06:59

Two days after NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus toward its rendezvous with the Sun, the spacecraft had drawn close enough to our star that its power-generating solar array wings began to tilt themselves inward – a task directed by the spacecraft itself, based on the rising temperatures – away from the Sun and behind the sun shield.

The final orbit for the Parker Solar Probe mission uses seven Venus gravity assists to rack up more than 900 hours close to the Sun. The original mission concept, using a single Jupiter gravity assist, got the spacecraft closer to the Sun, but gave scientists less than 100 hours in key areas.

How A Change in Mission Design Unlocked the Journey to the Sun

Posted on 10/04/2018 12:33:27

On Oct. 3, 2018, Parker Solar Probe performed the first significant celestial maneuver of its seven-year mission. As the orbits of the spacecraft and Venus converged toward the same point, Parker Solar Probe slipped in front of the planet, allowing Venus' gravity — relatively small by celestial standards — to twist its path and change its speed.

Artist concept of Parker Solar Probe flying past Venus

Parker Solar Probe Successfully Performs Venus Flyby

Posted on 10/03/2018 11:17:21

On Oct. 3, Parker Solar Probe successfully completed its flyby of Venus at a distance of about 1,500 miles during the first Venus gravity assist of the mission. These gravity assists will help the spacecraft tighten its orbit closer and closer to the Sun over the course of the mission.Detailed data from the flyby will be assessed over the next few days.

Artist concept of Parker Solar Probe flying past Venus

Fall 2018 Milestones for Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 10/02/2018 10:15:50

We like to call Parker Solar Probe the coolest, hottest, fastest mission under the Sun — and fall 2018 will prove why. Here are a few mission milestones to look forward to over the coming months.

Andy Dantzler joined Johns Hopkins APL in 2006 after more than 20 years with NASA. Here, he serves as a panelist at the Low-Cost Planetary Missions Conference, held at APL in June 2011.

Parker Solar Probe Begins Mission on Rocket Dedicated to APL's Andy Dantzler

Posted on 09/26/2018 11:37:53

As Parker Solar Probe – named for pioneering solar scientist Eugene Parker – rose from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station into the skies above Florida in the early morning hours of Aug.

First light data from Parker Solar Probe's WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) instrument suite. The right side of this image — from WISPR's inner telescope — has a 40-degree field of view, with its right edge 58.5 degrees from the Sun's center. The bright object slightly to the right of the image's center is Jupiter. The left side of the image is from WISPR's outer telescope, which has a 58-degree field of view and extends to about 160 degrees from the Sun. There is a parallax of about 13 degrees in the apparent position of the Sun as viewed from Earth and from Parker Solar Probe.

Illuminating First Light Data from Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 09/19/2018 12:19:52

Just over a month into its mission, Parker Solar Probe has returned first-light data from each of its four instrument suites. These early observations – while not yet examples of the key science observations Parker Solar Probe will take closer to the Sun – show that each of the instruments is working well.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is shown here mated to its third stage rocket motor on July 16, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The Solar Array Cooling System uses large black radiators, at the top of the spacecraft, to cool water that flows through portions of the solar arrays, bottom left.

Parker Solar Probe’s Solar Array Cooling System Fully Activated

Posted on 09/14/2018 15:02:34

On Sept. 13, Parker Solar Probe's first-of-its-kind water-cooled Solar Array Cooling System (or SACS) was made fully operational. The SACS will protect Parker Solar Probe’s solar arrays — responsible for powering the spacecraft — from the intense heat of the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

360 Video: Parker Solar Probe Launch

Posted on 09/07/2018 08:18:17

Watch in 360 degrees as Parker Solar Probe launches aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft lifted off at 3:31 a.m.

Plot of Parker Solar Probe's location

Where's Parker Solar Probe? Track the Spacecraft!

Posted on 09/06/2018 13:23:18

You can now track the position and speed of Parker Solar Probe on the web: http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/The-Mission/index.php#Where-Is-PSP The plots showing the spacecraft’s heliocentric velocity, distances from the Sun and Earth, and round-trip light time to Earth update every hour.

An artist’s concept of Parker Solar Probe in space. The FIELDS antennas extend out from behind the heat shield, and the Solar Probe Cup is visible on the right.

Parker Solar Probe Continues Successful Commissioning Operations

Posted on 09/05/2018 10:35:32

Parker Solar Probe continues to bring its instruments and secondary systems online — slightly ahead of schedule — as it speeds away from Earth. On Friday, Aug. 31, flight controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland performed a second planned Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM-2), a thruster burn which lasted for 35.2 seconds.

Parker Solar Probe

After Near-Perfect Trajectory Maneuver, Parker Solar Probe On Course To Touch The Sun

Posted on 08/21/2018 10:15:14

At 6:07 a.m. EDT on Aug. 20, 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe successfully completed its first trajectory correction maneuver (known as TCM-1), achieving a near-perfect firing of its propulsion system and putting the spacecraft on course to “touch” the Sun.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Parker Solar Probe Marks First Mission Milestones on Voyage to Sun

Posted on 08/17/2018 10:40:23

Just two days after launch on Aug. 12, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe achieved several planned milestones toward full commissioning and operations, announced mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL, in Laurel, Maryland.

Parker Solar Probe begins its mission to unlock the mysteries of our star on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 with a ride atop a  Delta IV Heavy rocket at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Parker Solar Probe Launches on Historic Journey to Touch the Sun

Posted on 08/12/2018 05:57:17

Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Sunday, Aug. 12 to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Launch Scrubbed; Next Attempt Aug. 12 at 3:31 a.m. ET

Posted on 08/11/2018 06:07:36

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was scrubbed today due to a violation of a launch limit, resulting in a hold. There was not enough time remaining in the window to recycle.

The ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry Parker Solar Probe on its mission to study the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Launch Now Targeted For 3:53 a.m., Aug. 11

Posted on 08/11/2018 02:06:47

The launch team is targeting 3:53 a.m. EDT for liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe. The countdown is in progress at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, secured inside its payload fairing, was moved July 30, 2018, from nearby Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The following day, the spacecraft was lifted and attached to the top of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket in the Vertical Integration Facility.

Countdown to Launch: Parker Solar Probe's Path To Launch Pad

Posted on 08/09/2018 20:50:34

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, secured inside its payload fairing, was moved July 30, 2018, from nearby Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is lifted to the third stage rocket motor on July 11, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

Launch Week Begins for Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 08/08/2018 05:56:29

Teams preparing for launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe are beginning a busy week leading up to liftoff, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, at 3:33 a.m. EDT, the opening of a 65-minute window.

Parker Solar Probe, attached to its third stage rocket motor.

Parker Solar Probe Launch Window Extended to August 23

Posted on 08/02/2018 14:42:26

NASA and its mission partners have analyzed and approved an extended launch window for Parker Solar Probe until Aug. 23, 2018 (previously Aug. 19). The spacecraft is scheduled to launch no earlier than Aug.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is lifted to the third stage rocket motor on July 11, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

Parker Solar Probe Prepares to Head Toward Launch Pad

Posted on 07/31/2018 11:31:00

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has cleared the final procedures in the clean room before its move to the launch pad, where it will be integrated onto its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.

Parker Solar Probe, as seen in a cleanroom at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida on July 6, 2018

New NASA Rocket Ranch Podcast on Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 07/27/2018 10:51:12

Even though our Sun shines bright in the sky, it is shrouded in mystery. In this episode of NASA's Rocket Ranch podcast, we hear from Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nicky Fox, who explains how the mission will fly inside the Sun's atmosphere in order to unlock its many secrets.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Parker Solar Probe Instruments: IS☉IS

Posted on 07/25/2018 09:01:30

Take a tour of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun—IS☉IS, pronounced ee-sis and including the symbol for the Sun in its acronym—on board Parker Solar Probe with Principal Investigator David McComas.

Parker Solar Probe

New Launch Date for Parker Solar Probe: Aug. 11, 2018

Posted on 07/24/2018 16:26:37

NASA and its mission partners are targeting Aug. 11 for the launch of the Parker Solar Probe mission to the Sun. The 45-minute launch window will open at 3:48 a.m. EDT. During final inspections following the encapsulation of the spacecraft, a small strip of foam was found inside the fairing and additional time is needed for inspection.

Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

July 20 Preview Briefing of Parker Solar Probe Mission

Posted on 07/20/2018 08:44:33

NASA will hold a preview briefing on the agency’s Parker Solar Probe at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, July 20. The event will air live on NASA Television, the agency’s website and Facebook Live.

Parker Solar Probe, as seen in a cleanroom at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida on July 6, 2018

Parker Solar Probe Launch No Earlier Than August 6

Posted on 07/18/2018 17:00:38

NASA now is targeting launch of the Parker Solar Probe no earlier than Aug. 6, 2018. Additional time was needed to evaluate the configuration of a cable clamp on the payload fairing.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield is made of two panels of superheated carbon-carbon composite sandwiching a lightweight 4.5-inch-thick carbon foam core. To reflect as much of the Sun’s energy away from the spacecraft as possible, the Sun-facing side of the heat shield is also sprayed with a specially formulated white coating.

Cutting-Edge Heat Shield Installed on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 07/05/2018 12:44:33

The launch of Parker Solar Probe, the mission that will get closer to the Sun than any human-made object has ever gone, is quickly approaching, and on June 27, 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield — called the Thermal Protection System, or TPS — was installed on the spacecraft.

Parker Solar Probe

New Launch Readiness Date for Parker Solar Probe: August 4, 2018

Posted on 06/15/2018 15:21:37

NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are now targeting launch of the agency’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft no earlier than Aug. 4, 2018. Originally scheduled to launch on July 31, additional time is needed to accommodate further software testing of spacecraft systems.

Members of the Parker Solar Probe team examine and align one of the two solar arrays that will power the spacecraft during its seven-year mission to the Sun. The solar arrays are cooled by a gallon of water that circulates through small tubes in the arrays and into large radiators at the top of the spacecraft.

Power Up: Solar Arrays Installed on NASA’s Mission to Touch the Sun

Posted on 06/06/2018 15:15:31

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe depends on the Sun, not just as an object of scientific investigation, but also for the power that drives its instruments and systems. On Thursday, May 31, 2018, the spacecraft’s solar arrays were installed and tested.

A Parker Solar Probe team member from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory holds the memory card containing 1,137,202 names submitted by the public to travel to the Sun aboard the spacecraft. The card was installed on a plaque which was placed on the spacecraft on May 18, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The plaque dedicated the mission to Eugene Parker, who first theorized the existence of the solar wind. Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA mission to be named for a living person.

More than 1.1 Million Names Installed on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 05/21/2018 11:15:59

Throughout its seven-year mission, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will swoop through the Sun’s atmosphere 24 times, getting closer to our star than any spacecraft has gone before. The spacecraft will carry more than scientific instruments on this historic journey – it will also hold more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to go to the Sun.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is powered by two solar arrays, shown here on May 2, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.

Solar Power: Parker Solar Probe Tests Its Arrays

Posted on 05/07/2018 12:03:00

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe gets its power from the Sun, so the solar arrays that collect energy from our star need to be in perfect working order. This month, members of the mission team tested the arrays at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to ensure the system performs as designed and provides power to the spacecraft during its historic mission to the Sun.

Participants received a certificate after they confirmed their submission.

More Than 1.1 Million Names Will Head to the Sun with Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 04/28/2018 15:43:26

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will carry 1,137,202 submitted and confirmed names on its journey to the Sun. Submissions opened on March 6, 2018, and closed on April 27 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Safe in the Shadow: Making Sure Solar Probe's Instruments Keep Cool

Posted on 04/27/2018 14:00:57

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is moved to a special stand and rotated down to a horizontal position on April 10 during pre-launch processing and testing at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, just outside Kennedy Space Center.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy that will carry Parker Solar Probe is raised at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 17, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe’s Launch Vehicle Rises at Space Launch Complex 37

Posted on 04/26/2018 14:16:13

On the morning of Tuesday, April 17, 2018, crews from United Launch Alliance raised the 170-foot tall Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle – the largest and most powerful rocket currently used by NASA – at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield, encased in a shipping container, is covered up for a rainy day of travel from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on April 16, 2018.

Heat Shield Arrives in Florida

Posted on 04/24/2018 14:22:33

The Thermal Protection System — also known as the heat shield — for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe arrived in Titusville, Florida, on April 18, 2018, bringing it one step closer to reuniting with the spacecraft that will be the first to “touch” the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe – wrapped in protective plastic – is shown on March 29, 2018, as the lid is lowered onto its shipping container at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft is shipped on its side to allow for more easy transport and to avoid height-related obstacles such as bridges. From Goddard, the probe was taken by truck to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and flown to Florida aboard a United States Air Force C-17.

NASA’s Mission to Touch the Sun Arrives in the Sunshine State

Posted on 04/06/2018 09:30:18

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Sun, scheduled for July 31, 2018. In the middle of the night on April 2, the spacecraft was driven from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to nearby Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Members of the Parker Solar Probe team prepare the spacecraft to be lifted from the Space Environment Simulator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on March 24, 2018. The spacecraft has spent eight weeks undergoing successful testing in the Space Environment Simulator to ensure that the mission will operate as planned during its seven-year long exploration of the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Completes Space Environment Testing

Posted on 03/26/2018 15:35:00

Parker Solar Probe has completed its space environment testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and was lifted out of the thermal vacuum chamber on March 24, 2018, after just over two months inside.

Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the Sun.

Send Your Name to the Sun Aboard NASA's Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 03/06/2018 12:30:07

Want to get the hottest ticket this summer without standing in line?NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching in summer 2018.

Members of the Parker Solar Probe team prepare the spacecraft for space environment testing in the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The thermal vacuum chamber duplicates the airless environment of space and simulates the cold and hot temperature cycles the spacecraft will endure during its seven-year exploration of the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe Begins Space Environment Testing

Posted on 01/30/2018 15:03:17

On Saturday, Jan. 27, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe began space environment testing, starting with the air being pumped out of the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where the spacecraft is currently housed.

Member of the NASA Parker Solar Probe team wheel the spacecraft – bagged to protect it from contamination – from its cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., to the thermal vacuum chamber, where it will undergo approximately seven weeks of testing at extreme temperatures that will simulate the space environment.

Simulated Space: Parker Solar Probe Enters Thermal Vacuum Testing

Posted on 01/17/2018 17:30:25

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was lowered into the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft will remain in the chamber for about seven weeks, coming out in mid-March for final tests and packing before heading to Florida.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Coordinated Science: Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter (AGU 2017 Fall Meeting Presentation)

Posted on 12/28/2017 10:57:21

Watch this presentation on how NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA’s Solar Orbiter missions will study the Sun separately and combine their science findings to give us an unprecedented understanding of our star.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Moving Day: Parker Solar Probe Travels from APL to NASA Goddard

Posted on 12/19/2017 10:31:51

How do you prepare to move the first spacecraft to touch the Sun? Same way you would move anything else: carefully wrap it, pack it in a large container, and perform a nitrogen purge.

The Parker Solar Probe team at Johns Hopkins APL prepares to lift the heat shield, called the Thermal Protection System (TPS), in preparation for shipment to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for further environmental testing.

Parker Solar Probe's Heat Shield Enters Thermal Vacuum Testing

Posted on 12/15/2017 10:08:17

To protect NASA's Parker Solar Probe from the intense heat of the Sun's atmosphere, scientists and engineers developed a revolutionary Thermal Protection System, or TPS. This heat shield, made of carbon-carbon composite material, will experience temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 Celsius) as the spacecraft hurtles through the solar atmosphere, while keeping the instruments on the spacecraft at approximately room temperature.The heat shield recently moved from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) in Laurel, Maryland to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt to undergo testing in their large Thermal Vacuum Chamber.

Parker Solar Probe team members use lasers to ensure that the spacecraft's solar arrays have survived harsh environmental testing and are operating correctly.

Purple Gaze: Parker Solar Probe's Solar Arrays Pass Laser Illumination Testing

Posted on 12/06/2017 11:31:00

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passed laser illumination testing the week of Nov. 27, 2017. During this test, each segment of the spacecraft’s solar panels was illuminated with lasers to check that they were still electrically connected after the vigorous vibration and acoustic testing completed earlier this fall.

Members of the integration and testing team roll Parker Solar Probe into the Acoustic Test Chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Sound Effects: Parker Solar Probe Passes Acoustic Testing

Posted on 11/16/2017 14:30:43

When NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off on top of a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in summer 2018, it will undergo both intense vibration from the physical forces of the rocket engines, as well as acoustic effects from the sound of the engines and the rocket going through the atmosphere.

Parker Solar Probe Project Scientist Nicky Fox of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab is interviewed at NASA Headquarters about the Sun and the mission for the new “Gravity Assist” podcast that launched Nov. 15, 2017.

New NASA Podcast "Gravity Assist" Debuts with Guest Dr. Nicola Fox

Posted on 11/15/2017 15:50:47

“Gravity Assist,” a new NASA weekly podcast series, launches Wednesday on NASA.gov and the SoundCloud and iTunes audio platforms. This initial 10-part series, with plans for future episodes, features top scientists from around the world guiding listeners on a tour through our galactic neighborhood as they explore the wonders of the solar system and beyond.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Parker Solar Probe Time-Lapse Video: Moving from Johns Hopkins APL to NASA Goddard

Posted on 11/13/2017 12:24:46

Time-lapse video shows the packing up and moving of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, to NASA'S Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

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Parker Solar Probe Arrives at NASA Goddard

Posted on 11/07/2017 14:03:57

On Monday, November 6, NASA's Parker Solar Probe spacecraft arrived at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland - a short drive from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where the spacecraft was designed and built.

Wrapped and Ready for Transport

Posted on 11/03/2017 12:29:18

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe – shown in protective bagging to prevent contamination, and mounted on a rotating pedestal – is getting ready for its trip from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to Goddard Space Flight Center to continue environmental testing.

Engineers and technicians at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab closely monitor vibration testing of NASA's Parker Solar Probe. The spacecraft is attached to a shaker table, which simulates the intense physical forces of launch and powered flight.

Parker Solar Probe Completes Launch Simulation Vibration Testing

Posted on 11/03/2017 08:59:03

To ensure that NASA's Parker Solar Probe will be able to withstand the physical stresses of launch, engineers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – where the probe was designed and is being integrated and tested – used a special device called a shaker table to simulate the forces of being hurled into space.

Engineers and technicians prepare the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft for mass properties testing. This marks the beginning of environmental testing, a series of physical tests that will ensure the probe can withstand the rigors of launch and temperature fluctuations of space operations.

Parker Solar Probe Successfully Completes Pre-Environmental Testing Review

Posted on 10/13/2017 10:50:13

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, the first mission to fly into the Sun’s corona, has successfully completed a review that approves the beginning of the spacecraft’s environmental testing.

Parker Solar Probe is about to be launched... into a gentle arc. By swinging the probe past magnetometers, the team can characterize the spacecraft's own magnetic field.

Swing Time: Parker Solar Probe Passes Magnetic Swing Test

Posted on 10/06/2017 12:37:49

As NASA's Parker Solar Probe continues through its careful construction process, the spacecraft – built for NASA by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland – is approaching the final stages and running through a battery of tests to ensure it will be ready for its groundbreaking mission to the Sun next summer.

Johns Hopkins APL's Betsy Congdon (left) and NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen, head of the agency's Science Mission Directorate, at the Parker Solar Probe renaming event at the University of Chicago in May. The augmented reality spacecraft model is visible at left.

Parker Solar Probe Uses An Improved “Reality” for Building Spacecraft

Posted on 10/05/2017 12:23:49

New augmented reality technology developed by NASA allows the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft team to explore, rehearse, and perfect their fabrication and integration procedures—all in an immersive digital environment.

Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, visits the spacecraft that bears his name, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where the probe was designed and is being built. The large black structure is one of the spacecraft's massive cooling radiators. The spacecraft is humanity’s first mission to a star – it will travel directly through the Sun’s atmosphere.

Eugene Parker Meets Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 10/03/2017 15:31:39

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, Eugene N. Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, visited the spacecraft that bears his name: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living researcher, and is humanity’s first mission to the Sun.

On Sept. 21, 2017, engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, lowered the thermal protection system – the heat shield – onto the spacecraft for a test of alignment as part of integration and testing.

Thermal Protection System Installed for Testing

Posted on 09/30/2017 07:38:10

On Sept. 21, 2017, engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, lowered the thermal protection system – the heat shield – onto the spacecraft for a test of alignment as part of integration and testing.

Facebook Live from the Parker Solar Probe Clean Room: Video

Posted on 09/25/2017 09:41:56

Rewatch the Facebook Live as NASA took us on a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming Parker Solar Probe! Come inside the clean room at Johns Hopkins APL and learn more about this historic mission, the revolutionary spacecraft, and the people who are making it possible https://www.facebook.com/NAS

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy common booster core arrives at the Horizontal Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for preflight processing. The Delta IV Heavy will launch NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission.

Final Rocket Components Arrive in Florida for Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 09/12/2017 12:55:33

All components of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch NASA’s Parker Solar Probe have arrived for prelaunch processing at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Framed by a series of cabbage palms, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy common booster core is transported by truck to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37 Horizontal Processing Facility after arriving at Port Canaveral. The Delta IV Heavy will launch NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission.

From NASA: Delta IV Heavy Booster Cores Arrive for Parker Solar Probe

Posted on 08/03/2017 11:56:00

Launch preparations are beginning to get off the ground for NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled to lift off in summer 2018 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.

The solar array cooling system for the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft—one element of which is the large, square black radiator visible at center, one of two that will be installed—is shown undergoing thermal testing at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in late February.

Cool Power

Posted on 06/21/2017 09:00:23

As NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft begins its first historic encounter with the sun’s corona in late 2018—flying closer to our star than any other mission in history—a revolutionary cooling system will keep its solar arrays at peak performance, even in extremely hostile conditions.Every instrument and system on board Parker Solar Probe (with the exception of four antennas and a special particle detector) will be hidden from the sun behind a breakthrough thermal protection system (TPS)—an eight-foot diameter shield that the spacecraft uses to defend itself against the intense heat and energy of our star.

NASA’s first mission to go to the sun, the Parker Solar Probe, is named after Eugene Parker who first theorized that the sun constantly sends out a flow of particles and energy called the solar wind.

NASA Renames Solar Probe Mission to Honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

Posted on 05/31/2017 11:30:00

CHICAGO – NASA has renamed the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft – humanity’s first mission to a star, which will launch in 2018 – as the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

NASA to Make Announcement About First Mission to Touch Sun

Posted on 05/26/2017 08:46:46

NASA will make an announcement about the agency’s first mission to fly directly into our sun’s atmosphere during an event at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 31, from the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center Auditorium.

An APL technician prepares the Energetic Particle Instrument-Low Energy (EPI-Lo) for installation on NASA’s Solar Probe Plus spacecraft.

Tuning Up: Solar Probe Plus Gets its First Science Instrument

Posted on 05/17/2017 07:32:31

With a few electrical connections and several turns of a wrench, Solar Probe Plus had its first onboard scientific instrument. The EPI-Lo particle detector – half of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun instrument suite – was installed on the spacecraft on April 17 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

Mission integration and test team members secure the deck holding the structure assembly and several other critical thermal-protection components atop NASA’s Solar Probe Plus spacecraft body on April 5, 2017, in the cleanroom at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Decked Out: Solar Array Cooling System Coming Together on Solar Probe Plus

Posted on 04/19/2017 13:58:23

The Solar Array Cooling System on Solar Probe Plus has one critical job – to protect the NASA spacecraft’s solar arrays from incineration as it moves through the blazing atmosphere of the sun.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Solar Probe Plus Project Scientist Dr. Nicola Fox at TEDxJHU

Posted on 03/10/2017 18:48:13

Solar Probe Plus Project Scientist Dr. Nicola Fox at TEDxJHU was live on Facebook (@1:03) on March 11,2017.

Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

Solar Probe Plus Featured on Discovery 'Facebook Live'

Posted on 02/08/2017 11:04:49

Solar Probe Plus Project Scientist Nicky Fox, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), was featured in a Discovery Channel Facebook Live event on Feb. 8, 2017.

Project Scientist Nicky Fox points out features on the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft during her Dec. 13 flash talk at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

At International Meeting, Mission Team Previews the Science of Solar Probe Plus

Posted on 01/05/2017 13:41:46

The science of Solar Probe Plus – NASA’s first mission to “touch” the sun – was on stage last month at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco. With some 25,000 attendees, representing nearly 100 countries, AGU’s Fall Meeting is the world’s largest Earth and space science conference.

Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, prepare the developing Solar Probe Plus spacecraft for thermal vacuum tests that simulate conditions in space. Today the spacecraft includes the primary structure and its propulsion system; still to be installed over the next several months are critical systems such as power, communications and thermal protection, as well as science instruments.

NASA's Solar Probe Plus Mission Moves One Step Closer to Launch

Posted on 07/29/2016 09:46:39

NASA's Solar Probe Plus – the first mission that will fly into sun's upper atmosphere and “touch” the sun – has passed a design review, an important milestone leading to its anticipated summer 2018 launch.

Artist rendering of Solar Probe Plus, solar panels folded into the shadows of its protective shield, as it gathers data on its approach to the Sun.

NASA Gives Green Light for APL to Begin Building Solar Probe Plus

Posted on 04/08/2015 12:37:00

NASA’s Solar Probe Plus mission - which will fly closer to the Sun than any spacecraft has before- reached a major milestone last month when it successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR).

Technicians at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., prepare an engineering model of the Solar Probe Plus Thermal Protection System, or TPS, for vibration tests in October 2013. The main feature of the TPS is an 8-foot-diameter, 4.5-inch-thick, carbon-carbon, carbon foam shield that will sit atop the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft body. The system will protect Solar Probe Plus from temperatures exceeding 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and impacts from hypervelocity dust particles as it flies through the sun’s outer atmosphere. The vibration tests simulate the shaking the spacecraft will undergo during launch; Solar Probe Plus is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Solar Probe Plus Moves into Advanced Development

Posted on 03/18/2014 09:26:32

Solar Probe Plus — NASA’s ambitious mission to fly through and examine the sun’s atmosphere — has reached a key stage of development. Solar Probe Plus will begin advanced design, development and testing — a step NASA designates as Phase C — following a successful design review in which an independent assessment board deemed that the mission team, led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., was ready to move ahead with full-scale spacecraft fabrication, assembly, integration and testing.

News CenterMedia Contacts

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters
(202) 358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
Geoff Brown
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
(240) 228-5618
geoffrey.brown@jhuapl.edu
Karen Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
(301) 286-6284
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov

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