To ensure that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be able to withstand the physical stresses of launch, engineers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – where the probe was designed and is being integrated and tested – used a special device called a shaker table to simulate the forces of being hurled into space. The spacecraft successfully passed vibration testing, or “vibe,” as the engineers call it, in late October.
“Our vibration testing uses our 40,000-pound force shaker to simulate many of the dynamic events that occur during launch and powered flight,” said APL’s Dave Persons, Parker Solar Probe lead structural engineer. “By safely simulating that process here in the clean room, we’re able to fully monitor the spacecraft and make sure it’s cleared for flight. During the test, we actively monitored over 300 channels of data.”
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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.
This is the first time that the revolutionary heat shield that will protect the first spacecraft to fly directly into the Sun’s atmosphere was installed; also, 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 outer atmosphere 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.
Come inside the clean room at JHU Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) today at 1:45 ET – join NASA Sun Science for a Facebook Live look at the amazing spacecraft and people who are helping humanity touch the Sun in 2018.
NASA Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins APL explains the Sun’s corona, visible during the August 21, 2017 total eclipse that will pass over much of the United States, and how Parker Solar Probe will help us unlock some of the mysteries of our star.
Megamovie App makes photographing the Total Solar Eclipse a Snap
The Eclipse Megamovie project has released an app that makes it easy for citizen scientists with smart phones to photograph the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse and upload the images to the project team; a collaboration between the Space Sciences Laboratory’s Multiverse education group and Google’s Making & Science initiative to provide a lasting photo archive for scientists studying the sun’s corona.
UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko, an admitted eclipse addict, advises on safe viewing and why you shouldn’t miss this rare event, the Great American Eclipse. Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally.
When downloaded and installed, the app walks users through a simple process to point your smart phone at the sun and automatically starts taking photos. Photos begin 15 seconds before totality and throughout the total eclipse – which will last a maximum of 2 minutes, 40 seconds, depending on where you are – and 15 seconds after the total eclipse has ended to capture what is known as the “diamond ring” effect.
The complete article on photographing the total eclipse using the Megamovie Mobile app is found here.
Launch preparations are beginning to get off the ground for NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled to lift off in summer 2018 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.
Two of the three common booster cores comprising the rocket’s first stage have arrived on the company’s Mariner ship, which delivered the components to Port Canaveral in Florida. From there the cores were offloaded and transported to the Horizontal Processing Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37.
The Parker Solar Probe will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. The probe will rely on measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and the Sun-Earth connection.