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NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe For Historic Mission To The Sun (Photos)

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NASA has finally sent a spacecraft on a mission to fly where no probe has ever gone before into the sun’s scorching outer atmosphere.

The probe took off at 3.31 ET (8.31 BST) yesterday.

It was initially set to launch at 3.33am ET (8.33am BST) yesterday, but poor conditions meant it was pushed back 24-hours.

NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe For Historic Mission To The Sun (Photos) 9

The unmanned spacecraft is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8million miles from the sun’s surface.

Previously, the closest an aircraft had come to the sun was 27million miles.

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The $1.5billion (£1.17billion) Parker Probe blasted offatop one of the most powerful rockets in the world.

It will eventually hit record-breaking speeds of up to 430,000 miles per hour as it completes 24 orbits of the sun over the course of seven years.

At this speed, it would take two minutes to travel from London to New York.

While orbitting the sun, the craft will swing around Venus seven times, using the planet’s gravity to push it closer and closer to our star with each pass; eventually, the Parker probe will get within 3.8 million miles of the sun’s surface.

It will make its first fly past Venus in October, and is protected by a revolutionary new heat shield.

That will set up the first solar encounter in November.

It will be subjected to temperatures of roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371°C) when it comes closer tothe sun than any spacecraft in history but, behind its thick heat shield, it will only feel like a hot summer day, with this sheltered region maxing out at about 85F (29C).

NASA to sun NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe For Historic Mission To The Sun (Photos) 11 NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe For Historic Mission To The Sun (Photos) 12

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