Parker Solar Probe gets its revolutionary heat shield

Parker Solar Probe gets its revolutionary heat shield
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. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

On Sept. 25, 2017, media were invited to see NASA's Parker Solar Probe in its flight configuration at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where it is being built. The revolutionary heat shield that will protect the first spacecraft to fly directly into the Sun's atmosphere was installed for the first time on Sept. 21. This is the only time the spacecraft will have its thermal protection system—which will reach temperatures of 2,500 degrees F while at the Sun—attached until just before launch.

Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for launch on July 31, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The spacecraft will explore the Sun's and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work. The resulting data will improve forecasts of major space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.

In this time-lapse video taken on Sept. 21, 2017, the thermal protection system – the heat shield -- for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft is shown during installation at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. This 4.5-inch thick, eight-foot diameter shield protects the spacecraft and its instruments against the intense heat and energy of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, through which the spacecraft will fly on a mission of extreme exploration. Credit: NASA
  • Parker Solar Probe gets its revolutionary heat shield
    Nicola Fox, the project scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, answers media questions on Sept. 25, 2017, in the clean room at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, with the spacecraft in the background. Credit: NASA
  • Parker Solar Probe gets its revolutionary heat shield
    NASA’s Parker Solar in the clean room at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, on Sept. 25, 2017. It is shown with the thermal protection system – the heat shield – on top, which is one of the few times it is integrated with the space craft before it launches. Credit: NASA

Explore further

A real scorcher: NASA probe to fly into sun's atmosphere (Update)

Provided by NASA
Citation: Parker Solar Probe gets its revolutionary heat shield (2017, September 27) retrieved 20 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-09-parker-solar-probe-revolutionary-shield.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
24 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more