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NASA sending mission to ‘touch the sun’

HOUSTON (Reuters) – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) is planning an ambitious new mission to “touch the sun” that will supposedly revolutionize our understanding of the yellow dwarf star.

According to Nasa, the Solar Probe Plus is set to launch in summer 2018 and will orbit within four million miles of the sun’s surface – closer than any other spacecraft has approached before.

The probe will be equipped with a carbon composite heat shield, to help it withstand radiation and temperatures of up to 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit.

It will collect data about the corona – the sun’s outer atmosphere – to help solve the mystery of why it’s millions of degrees hotter than the surface. ‘Scientists aim to study solar activity in detail, particularly how solar winds are accelerated.

This could improve forecasts of space weather events, which can shake the earth’s magnetic field and impact satellite communications, astronaut safety, power grids, and radiation on flights.