Image: Prepping the Parker Solar Probe for space

Image: Prepping the Parker Solar Probe for space
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/Ed Whitman

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the Parker Solar Probe is lowered into the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber. Why?

The simulates the that the spacecraft will experience on its journey through space, including near-vacuum conditions and severe hot and . 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, where it's scheduled to launch in July 2018 aboard a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.

NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions—and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.


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Parker Solar Probe comes to NASA Goddard for testing

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Jan 22, 2018
Considering the incredible velocity the probe will attain, will it be able to break free from the Sun's orbit and exit our solar system? At this velocity, how long would it take to catch Voyager?

Jan 22, 2018
Considering the incredible velocity the probe will attain, will it be able to break free from the Sun's orbit and exit our solar system? At this velocity, how long would it take to catch Voyager?


Well, having done a quick check, here is my back of the envelope calculation:

Voyager I distance: ~ 2 x 10^10 km.
Voyager I speed: ~ 6 x 10^4 km/h.
Parker probe speed (at closest approach): 7 x 10^5 km/h.

So, PP going ~ 6.4 x 10^5 km/h faster than Voyager;

Therefore; ~ 2 x 10^10 km/ ~6.4 x 10^5 km/h = ~ 31 000 hrs = ~ 3.5 yrs.

Of course, that is a very BOTE calculation, but gives an idea. That seems to be in the ballpark, as Voyager has been going for over 30 years, and PP will be ~ 10 x faster.

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