The Mission


NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun.

The MissionScience Objectives

NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun. 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.

  • Measurements from within the region where all the action happens
  • On the final three orbits, Parker Solar Probe will fly to within 9 solar radii of the sun's "surface" 9 solar radii is 9 times the radius of the sun, or about 3.9 million miles. That is about seven times closer than the current record-holder for a close solar pass, the Helios spacecraft.
  • At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe will be hurtling around the sun at approximately 450,000 miles per hour! That's fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second.
  • At closest approach to the sun, while the front of Parker Solar Probe' solar shield faces temperatures approaching 1,400° Celsius, the spacecraft's payload will be near room temperature.

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 Parker Solar Probe 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. Parker Solar Probe provides a statistical survey of the outer corona.

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

The MissionLaunch

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.

Credit: ULA

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

The MissionJourney to the Sun

Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. To get there, it takes an innovative route.

Trajectory Design

Parker Solar Probe 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.

Parker Solar Probe 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, Parker Solar Probe is likely to generate more questions than it answers.

  • 24 Orbits
  • 7 Venus gravity assist flybys

Final Solar Orbits

At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe will be hurtling around the sun at approximately 450,000 miles per hour! That's fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second.

  • Closest approach: 3.83 million miles
  • Speed ~450,000 miles per hour (~125 miles per second)
  • Orbit period: 88 days

The MissionTimeline

It has been 50+ years since the "Solar Probe" Concept was introduced. . . We are on our way!

Parker Solar Probe 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, Parker Solar Probe 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. Parker Solar Probe will revolutionize our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Mission duration: 6 yrs, 11 months


2016

May: System Integration Review

July: KDP-D

Successfully passed KDP-D on 7 July 2016


July: Start of Integration and Testing

Integration and test formally started on 1 July 2016 with delivery of the flight structure with the integrated Propulsion Subsystem.



The MissionTeam

NASA Parker Solar Probe Mission Management

Parker Solar Probe Program Executive
Joseph Smith (HQ)
Parker Solar Probe Program Scientist
Elsayed Talaat (HQ)
LWS Program Manager
Nick Chrissotimos (Goddard Space Flight Center)
LWS Deputy Program Manager
Mark Goans (GSFC)
Parker Solar Probe Mission Scientist
Adam Szabo (GSFC)

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Parker Solar Probe Project Management

Space Department Head
Michael Ryschkewitsch
Civil Space Mission Area Executive
Kurt Lindstrom
Civil Space Program Area Manager
Richard Fitzgerald
Parker Solar Probe Project Manager
Andrew Driesman
Deputy Project Manager
Patrick Hill
Deputy Project Manager for Instruments
Kim Cooper
Project Scientist
Nicola Fox
Deputy Project Scientist
Rob Decker
Mission System Engineer
Jim Kinnison
Spacecraft System Engineer
Mary Kae Lockwood
Mission Design Lead
Yanping Guo
Mission Operations Manager
Nicholas Pinkine
Engagement and Communications Lead
Kerri Beisser
Public Affairs Lead
Geoff Brown

Parker Solar Probe Instrument Principal Investigators

Fields Experiment (FIELDS)
Stuart Bale (University of California, Berkeley)
Integrated Science Investigation of the sun (IS☉IS)
David McComas (Princeton University)
Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) Investigation
Justin Kasper (University of Michigan)
Wide-field Imager for Solar PRobe (WISPR)
Russell Howard (Naval Research Laboratory)
Heliospheric Origins with Solar Probe Plus (HeliOSPP)
Marco Velli (University of California, Los Angeles)
NASA Logo Parker Solar Probe Logo

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