Space probe to plunge into fiery corona of the sun

UC Berkeley physicist Stuart Bale discusses the FIELDS instruments aboard the Parker Solar Probe. Designed and built at the Space Sciences Laboratory, the instruments will measure electric and magnetic fields in the outer atmosphere of the sun to understand the corona and solar wind. (Applied Physics Laboratory video, Johns Hopkins University)

On August 11, NASA plans to launch Earth’s first spacecraft to venture inside the orbits of Venus and Mercury to touch the very edge of the sun’s fiery corona.

Outfitted with instruments designed and built at the University of California, Berkeley, the Parker Solar Probe will achieve a goal that space scientists have dreamed about for decades: to get close enough to the sun to learn how the turbulent surface we see from Earth dumps its energy into the corona and heats it to nearly 2 million degrees Fahrenheit, spawning the solar wind that continually bombards our planet.

“This is a piece of heliophysics science we all really wanted for a long time, since the 1950s,” said Stuart Bale, a UC Berkeley professor of physics, former director of the campus’s Space Sciences Laboratory and one of four principal investigators for the instruments aboard the mission. “For me personally, I’ve been working on the probe since it was approved in 2010, but I really spent a large part of my career getting ready for it.”

The complete article thanks to Berkeley News