In 2018, 4 million years from sun, in 2550 degrees Fahrenheit with random blasts of intense radiation, a car sized spacecraft made from carbon-composite heat shield will penetrate sun’s atmosphere. This will be NASA’s Solar Probe Plus mission, announced recently.
It will be yet another achievement for human space flight, providing us with better understanding of our sun, answering more and more of our questions.
More specifically, per Dr Dick Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics, it will try to answer following two questions: “why is the sun’s outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun’s visible surface and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system? ”
Beside the usefulness of the mission for understanding of sun, it is the technology that is, perhaps, more vital. We haven’t been in these temperatures before. We haven’t used heat shield like this before. So the success of this mission will tell us that we can use these technologies, and hence, it will open up more windows of exploration taking us further , and further continuing our journey.