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It's on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun's surface.

Zooming through space in a highly elliptical orbit, the Parker Solar Probe will reach speeds of up to 7,00,000 km per hour, setting the record for the fastest spacecraft in history.

A Saturday morning launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble.

The spacecraft has been named after 91-year-old astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who was one of the many spectators who arrived at the launch site to watch the historic moment.

"We've been inside the orbit of Mercury and done fantastic things, but until you go and touch the sun, you can't answer these questions", said Nicola Fox, mission project scientist.

The probe will make its closest approach in 2024 when the next total solar eclipse is expected to be seen over the USA, and with that, the spacecraft will be visible.

By the time of its closest approach to the sun's surface, the Parker Solar Probe will be traveling at 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object ever.

Scientists have been debating these questions for decades but NASA said technology has only come far enough in the past few decades to make the solar mission a reality.

United States space agency Nasa has launched its mission to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before.

Consisting of two layers of carbon-carbon composite sandwiched around carbon foam, the front of the shield, coated with white ceramic paint, will withstand temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The cup will glow red when the probe makes its closest approach to the sun, sampling the solar wind and effectively touching the sun.

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The spacecraft will analyse so-called "space weather", which is large eruptions of radiation from the sun which batter Earth.

On the official NASA website reported that the device was launched on Sunday, August 12 at 10:31 am Kiev time on the Delta IV Heavy rocket, reports the Politek.

The probe is created to plunge into the Sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, during a seven-year mission.

According to the USA space agency, Parker Solar Probe has been created to withstand the extreme conditions and temperature fluctuations for the mission.

Here is what you need to know about the Parker Solar Probe.

The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. It could be due to interactions between electrically charged particles and the sun's powerful magnetic field, or it could be the result of countless "nanoflares" governed by another mechanism.

The spacecraft will travel through material with temperatures greater than several million degrees Celsius while being bombarded with intense sunlight.

The Aditya L1 satellite craft will not be getting close and personal with the sun but it will be inhabiting a halo orbit called the L1 point - where a satellite can get unobstructed views of the sun.

Eugene Parker was an astronomer at the University of Chicago in the 1950s. The probe's instrument payload also includes a white-light camera that will take the kinds of pictures of the shimmering corona that are seen on Earth only during a total solar eclipse.


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