NASA postpones launch of probe to study sun at close range

Parker Solar Probe launch delayed until Sunday

If all goes well, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, in November.

The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that.

The Sun-facing side of the probe will endure temperatures of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 Celsius).

The launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV (four) rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the Parker Solar Probe.

The probe was expected to launch early Saturday morning but was delayed twice, once at 3:53 a.m. and again at 4:28 a.m., during the 65-minute launch window that began at 3:33 a.m. ET.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Eugene Parker predicted the existence of solar wind 60 years ago.

"Solar wind and space weather affect habitability, so understanding the dynamics of faraway stars can help us predict which stars are most likely to host habitable planets", Christian said'.

It will actually skim by at a distance of 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) above the Sun's surface.

Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 deg F.

"Go, baby, go!" project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University shouted at liftoff. "We have not been able to answer these questions".

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory. "Launch teams will attempt to launch on Sunday morning", NASA said in a tweet on Saturday.

The probe's instruments also will map the sun's powerful magnetic field, as well as the torrent of electrically charged particles that are constantly blasted away into space in explosive outbursts, and the mechanism that accelerates those particles to extreme velocities. On the probe Parker spent about $ 1.5 billion.

The probe will make at least 24 passes around the sun, with gravity assists from Venus for seven of them, and continue going after that as long as it has propellant.

The Parker probe's final three orbits - in 2024 and 2025 - will be the closest.

Along with being the first spacecraft to fly that close to a star, Parker also will be the fastest, streaking through the outer corona at some 430,000 miles per hour - fast enough to fly from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in less than one minute.

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