‘This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’ -Neil Armstrong.
The world is no longer the same since 20th July, 1969. It was the first time ever that man has stepped on any extra-terrestrial object—in this case it was the moon—which further led in setting up a benchmark for the human-oriented space programs.
Even though, Apollo 13 was a successful failure, it never pulled away humanity to reach to unknowing-ably high. But, due to budget issues lunar missions were kept on halt.
After 46 years, NASA finally launches another mission which will create a breakthrough in the history of mankind. On 12th August, 2018, it launched a robotic spacecraft into the space named Parker Solar Probe which will make its seven years journey towards reaching very closest to the Sun. Imagine a probe making 24 dives into the most violent and enormous cosmic object in our solar system. It has been reported that it will be spying the sun from about 3.83 million miles. It might sound like a very large distance but, it is seven times closer than any craft has ever reached.
Is there a need of Parker?
To most of the people this might be a waste of monetary assets but, there is a strong reason behind this expedition. In July 2012, a major solar eruption was witnessed whose further consequences were explained by a distinguished professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at University of Colorado Boulder, Daniel N. Baker. Electromagnetic fields are formed at the surface of the sun which sometimes sparks into large ferocious eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections. Solar Wind carries Highly Charged Particles into the space, such as electrons, protons, alpha particles with kinetic energy of 0.5 to 10keV. These mass ejections led such highly charged particles towards disrupting the magnetic field of the Earth and frying every electrical circuit in its way. In the year 1859, same incident was occurred and researchers say that there is a 12 per cent of chance of getting struck by such solar storm in the next decade. We can’t underestimate the potential of solar power; this might create a total chaos by letting our world into total blackout. So, it has become sort of sine qua non to study the solar patterns and be prepared for its outcomes.
What is the functioning of the Parker?
Parker Solar Probe has been designed to spy on the sun from its outer most surface layer Corona. The temperature within this area rises from 1 to 5 million Fahrenheit, well that’s a lot of heat. While, the main function of the probe is to collect data and study the signs of such possible eruptions in upcoming years. Robotic craft is estimated to be diving 24 times into the atmosphere of sun esp. in corona. But, the most concerned thing right now, is not to get melt. The probe consists of a heating shield which will be the only part facing sun’s atmosphere covering up the rest. It is designed to resist the high temperatures coming from the corona itself. There are some highly sensitive thermal sensors on the Parker which determine the positioning of the heat shield faced towards the giant star.
Moreover, every bit of data from Parker will help us to understand the origins and working of this life-giving star. They say, every creation goes into dust at certain point resulting into new generation and the cycle goes on. There might be a critical point where our sun goes into nuclear fission further causing a super-nova leaving only a strong gravitational point and Nebula (cosmic cloud dust). We can be prepared for such calamities but won’t be able to prevent it or will we?
– Bhushan Ghate
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