Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within four million miles of the Sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

Visit APL's Parker Solar Probe website for more information.

Visit NASA's Heliophysics Gallery Page for other animations and data visualizations.

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Parker Solar Probe Media

  • Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter Trajectories
    2018.06.05
    The next missions scheduled for detailed studies of the Sun and solar atmosphere are Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter.
  • Parker Solar Probe Animations
    2017.09.22
    Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

    Parker Solar Probe is an extraordinary and historic mission exploring arguably the last and most important region of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft to finally answer top-priority science goals for over five decades.

    But we don't do this just for the basic science.

    One recent study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year.

    In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the sun.

  • What is Parker Solar Probe?
    2017.09.22
    Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

    Parker Solar Probe is an extraordinary and historic mission exploring arguably the last and most important region of the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft to finally answer top-priority science goals for over five decades.

    But we don't do this just for the basic science.

    One recent study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year.

    In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the sun.

  • Send Your Name to the Sun with Parker Solar Probe
    2018.03.06
    NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will launch in summer 2018 to travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, closer to the solar surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and you can send your name along for the ride. To commemorate humanity’s first visit to the star we live with, NASA invites the public to submit their names to be included on a microchip headed to the Sun aboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe.
  • Send Your Name to the Sun
    2018.03.28
    Submit your name and it will be included in a memory card that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe spacecraft. Come with us as we plunge through the Sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions—and ultimately providing humanity with the first-ever close-up view of a star. Submissions will be accepted through April 27, 2018. Learn more and add your name to the mission here: go.nasa.gov/HotTicket
  • Parker Solar Probe Gets Visit From Namesake
    2018.05.17
    Eugene N. Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, today visited the spacecraft that bears his name: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living researcher, and is humanity’s first mission to the Sun.

    Parker proposed the existence of the constant outflow of solar material from the sun, which is now called the solar wind, and theorized other fundamental stellar science processes. On Oct. 3, 2017, he viewed the spacecraft in a clean room at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where the probe was designed and is being built. He discussed the revolutionary heat shield and instruments with the Parker Solar Probe team and learned how the spacecraft will answer some of the crucial questions Parker identified about how stars work.

    NASA’s 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 stars. The resulting data will also improve forecasts of major eruptions on the sun and subsequent space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.

  • Plaque Installed on Parker Solar Probe
    2018.05.21
    Still image

    A Parker Solar Probe team member from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory holds the memory card containing 1,137,202 names submitted by the public to travel to the Sun aboard the spacecraft. The card was installed on a plaque which was placed on the spacecraft on May 18, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The plaque dedicated the mission to Eugene Parker, who first theorized the existence of the solar wind. Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA mission to be named for a living person.

    Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

Testing And Integration

  • Parker Solar Probe: Testing and Integration
    2017.09.22
    Main flight harness installation.
    Credit: NASA/JHUAPL
  • Parker Solar Probe: Environmental Testing
    2017.12.06
    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passed laser illumination testing the week of Nov. 27, 2017. During this test, each segment of the spacecraft’s solar panels was illuminated with lasers to check that they were still electrically connected after the vigorous vibration and acoustic testing completed earlier this fall.

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is in the midst of intense environmental testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in preparation for its journey to the Sun. These tests have simulated the noise and shaking the spacecraft will experience during its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, scheduled for July 31, 2018.

    Parker Solar Probe’s integration and testing team must check over the spacecraft and systems to make sure everything is still in optimal working condition after experiencing these rigorous conditions – including a check of the solar arrays, which will provide electrical power to the spacecraft.

    Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars. The resulting data will also help improve how we forecast major eruptions on the Sun and subsequent space weather events that can impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space. The mission is named for Eugene N. Parker, whose profound insights into solar physics and processes have helped shape the field of heliophysics.
    Link to Parker Solar Probe blog post.


  • Parker Solar Probe Travels to Florida
    2018.04.13
    Parker Solar Probe Arrives in Florida

    On April 4, 2018, Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nicky Fox of Johns Hopkins APL describes the spacecraft's April 3 journey to Florida and arrival at Astrotech Space Operations, the probe's new home before a scheduled launch on July 31, 2018 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

    Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Lee Hobson

    Watch this video on the Johns Hopkins APL YouTube channel.

  • Solar Power: Parker Solar Probe Tests Its Arrays
    2018.05.08
    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe gets its power from the Sun, so the solar arrays that collect energy from our star need to be in perfect working order. This month, members of the mission team tested of the arrays at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to ensure the system performs as designed and provides power to the spacecraft during its historic mission to the Sun.

    Parker Solar Probe is powered by two solar arrays, totaling just under 17 square feet (1.55 square meters) in area. They are mounted to motorized arms that will retract almost all of their surface behind the Thermal Protection System – the heat shield – when the spacecraft is close to the Sun.

  • Power Up: Solar Arrays Installed on NASA’s Mission to Touch the Sun
    2018.06.06
    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe depends on the Sun, not just as an object of scientific investigation, but also for the power that drives its instruments and systems. On Thursday, May 31, 2018, the spacecraft’s solar arrays were installed and tested. These arrays will power all of the spacecraft’s systems, including the suites of scientific instruments studying the solar wind and the Sun’s corona as well as the Solar Array Cooling System (SACS) that will protect the arrays from the extreme heat at the Sun.

    “Unlike solar-powered missions that operate far from the Sun and are focused only on generating power from it, we need to manage the power generated along with the substantial heat that comes from being so close to the Sun,” said Andy Driesman, project manager from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “When we’re out around the orbit of Venus, we fully extend the arrays to get the power we need. But when we’re near the Sun, we tuck the arrays back until only a small wing is exposed, and that portion is enough to provide needed electrical power.”

    The solar arrays are cooled by a gallon of water that circulates through tubes in the arrays and into large radiators at the top of the spacecraft. They are just over three and a half feet (1.12 meters) long and nearly two and a half feet (0.69 meters) wide. Mounted on motorized arms, the arrays will retract almost all of their surface behind the Thermal Protection System – the heat shield – when the spacecraft is close to the Sun. The solar array installation marks some of the final preparation and testing of Parker Solar Probe leading up to the mission’s July 31 launch date.

Instruments

  • Looking at the Corona with WISPR on Parker Solar Probe
    2018.04.16
    The Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe, or WISPR, is aboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to take images of the solar corona (the Sun’s atmosphere) and inner heliosphere. WISPR’s telescopes will provide white-light images of the solar wind, shocks, solar ejecta and other structures as they approach and pass the spacecraft. Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for launch in July 2018. It will be the first spacecraft ever to fly through the solar corona to investigate the evolution of the solar wind and heating of the solar corona. WISPR does not look directly at the Sun. Its very wide field-of-view extends from 13° away from the center of the Sun to 108° from the Sun.