“This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before. This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The spacecraft will be about the size of a small car and will be protected from the Sun’s heat by a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield.
The spacecraft’s speed at the closest approach will be 430,000 mph. Parker Solar Probe was named in the honour of astrophysicist Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. This is the first spacecraft named after a living person. The Parker Solar Probe was originally called Solar Probe Plus. In May 2017, NASA announced the name change. There is something for public interest on this mission: NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard. Submissions will be accepted until April 27, 2018 accessing the form at http://go.nasa.gov/HotTicket .