The solar probe Parker, the first spacecraft that, if everything goes as planned, will travel through the Corona del Sol, was launched today successfully 24 hours from the base of Cape Canaveral (Florida).
The objective is to help clarify the mysteries hidden by the sun and the probe is expected to reach its destination in November.
The Delta IV Heavy rocket from the United Launch Alliance took off at 03.31 local time (07.31 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral air base of the US Aerospace Agency (NASA) with the probe on board.
A few minutes after the launch the rocket broke off from its three thrusters, as was programmed and continued its progress without incident with the second main engine running correctly after a shutdown and ignition process also planned.
With favorable weather forecasts of 95% and after having solved the problems that had caused the launch dates to be changed twice until yesterday, NASA rescheduled the start of this mission, which it considers “historic”, on Saturday for Sunday.
The probe aims to collect information closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft has done so far.
And so it can contribute to solving issues such as the difference in the temperature of the atmosphere of the sun that is more than one million degrees while the solar surface itself is at 6,000 degrees.
After years of research, the team came up with the way that the probe resists a heat equivalent to 500 times what we experience on Earth and perform, thus, observations “in situ”.
It is a thermal shield that will withstand temperatures of 1,400 degrees Celsius and maintain the instruments inside the aircraft at room temperature (30 degrees Celsius).
The probe, of small dimensions (65 kilos and 3 meters high), will reach a distance of 6 million kilometers from the Sun, equivalent to 4 centimeters of it if the Earth were one meter from the Sun.
In addition, the probe will reach 700,000 kilometers per hour, the highest speed that has yet developed any other ship built by man.
A speed that is equivalent to traveling between New York and Tokyo in a minute and that will allow the probe to reach the Sun in November.
The probe, which will orbit 24 times around the Sun and will progressively approach it with the help of Venus gravity, will reach its closest point in 2025, which is when the most valuable information can be gathered.
The probe has a cost of 1,500 million dollars (1,200 million euros) and will carry for the first time the name of a person alive, the American physicist Eugene Parker, 91, who developed in the 50s of last century the theory of the solar wind.
As in all major occasions, NASA scheduled a live television special in which optimism today was infected by the tremor that the takeoff made felt in the studio.
The 91-year-old American physicist himself went to Cape Canaveral to witness a launch live for the first time in his life, although in this case he recognized the emotion of the recognition that being the pioneer who developed the theory of the wind in the 50s solar.
“All I can say is ‘wow’, there we go, we are here to learn something in the coming years,” he exclaimed in the NASA study.
Parker compared the beauty of the launch with observing for the first time the Taj Mahal in India, one of the most visited monuments in the world.