This summer, NASA is launching the Parker Solar Probe, which has been in the works since 2009. This robotic spacecraft will probe the outer corona of the sun in an effort to “determine the structure and dynamics of the magnetic fields at the sources of solar wind, trace the slow of energy that heats the corona, determine what mechanisms accelerate and transport energetic particles, and explore dusty plasma near the sun and its influence on solar wind and solar energetic particles formation.”
This car-sized probe will head into space aboard a Delta-IV Heavy rocket and will be the first craft to actually touch the surface of the sun. The gravitational pull of the sun will cause it to travel about 430,000 miles per hour, which is fast enough to circle Earth in 3.3 seconds, according to Digital Trends. This is the first NASA craft to be named after a living person, astrophysicist Eugene Parker.
NASA released a video featuring who else but the man behind Captain Kirk, promoting their “Hot Ticket” program, giving space enthusiasts the opportunity to send their names to the sun, alongside Shatner’s, on a memory card onboard.
Do you have a friend who would love to have their name floating around in space or do you want your own up there? You have until April 27 to submit your name!