For a mission in which the spacecraft will approach a record close to the Sun, the space agency has equipped the Parker probe with the latest thermal protection technology.
NASA equipped the unique spacecraft with a Thermal Protection System (TPS) on June 27, 2018. The agency also invited media representatives to a presentation of the already assembled device, which will be held on July 13 at the Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The Parker Solar Probe is slated to launch on August 4 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.
TPS is a nearly 2.5-meter heat shield designed to protect the spacecraft by using the shadow it casts on the probe. When Parker reaches its closest point to the Sun, temperatures can reach about 1,400 degrees Celsius. The heat shield will take most of the heat on itself, passing about 30 degrees to the device.
In its structure, TPS is similar to a sandwich: a carbon foam core, about 11.5 centimeters in size, is mounted between two panels of superheated composite carbon materials. The side facing the sun is covered with a white layer designed specifically to reflect solar energy from the thermal protection system.
TPS joins custom-welded beam on Parker spacecraft at six points to reduce thermal conductivity / NASA
The heat shield weighs no more than 73 kilograms. They tried to make it as light as possible, since when the probe reaches its closest point to the Sun, it will move at a speed of almost 700 thousand km / h.
Parker will approach the solar corona by 6.2 million kilometers. This is the first such mission - no other spacecraft has been so close to a star. Scientists will be able to study the Sun from the smallest distance in history.
The probe uses the gravity of Venus and will orbit it seven times over nearly seven years. As a result, the device will enter the internal orbit of Mercury. The Parker Solar Probe will help scientists learn about the origin and evolution of the solar wind. It will also provide information to help experts predict changes in the Earth's space environment that affect life and technology on the planet.