NASA Offers Next Best Thing to Touching the Sun

Fly your name to our star instead
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2018 12:02 PM CST

(Newser) – NASA will fly you to the sun—or at least your name. From now until April 27, NASA is accepting online submissions for this hottest ticket in town, which is free. The names—including that of pitchman William Shatner—will be included on a microchip to be sent on the Parker Solar Probe all the way to the sun, reports the AP. Once launched this summer from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the probe will eventually come within 4 million miles of our star, seven times closer than any other probe, reports Space.com. Temperatures will reach 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit as the spacecraft zips in and out of this atmospheric hot zone.

Until now, the materials for such a grueling journey were unavailable. But the Parker Solar Probe—previously dubbed the Solar Probe Plus—will include a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield to protect against the sun's radiation, per Space.com. According to NASA officials, the $1.5 billion probe will measure magnetic and electric fields and solar wind as it hits record speeds of 430,000mph during 24 flybys of the sun over the next seven years. Scientists hope its measurements will reveal how solar wind is accelerated, as well as explain why the sun's atmosphere is significantly hotter than its surface.

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