NASA Renames Solar Probe Plus in Honour of Eugene Parker
NASA announced Wednesday that it has renamed the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft – the first mankind mission to a star, to be launched in 2018 – as Parker’s solar probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker.
“This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft a living individual,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA’s scientific mission leadership in Washington.
The announcement was made during a ceremony at the University of Chicago where Parker is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Distinguished Service S. Chandrasekhar depart.
In 1958, Parker, then a young professor at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University, published an article in the Astrophysical Journal entitled “Dynamics of interplanetary gas and magnetic fields.”
Parker believed that there was a material of high speed and a magnetism that constantly escaped from the Sun and that affected the planets and the space in our solar system.
This phenomenon, now known as the solar wind, has been shown repeatedly by direct observation.
Parker’s work is the basis of much of our understanding of how stars interact with the orbiting worlds.
“Solar probe is a region of space that has never been explored before,” he said.
“It’s very exciting that we’re finally going to look at it.” “We would like to have more detailed measures of what’s happening in the solar wind, I’m sure there will be surprises,” Parker added.
In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars, including our Sun, emit energy.
He called this cascade of solar wind energy, and described a whole complex system of plasma, magnetic fields and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon.
Parker also theorized an explanation of the superheated solar atmosphere, the crown, which, contrary to what was expected from the laws of physics, was warmer than the surface of the Sun itself.
Many NASA missions have continued to focus on this complex space environment defined by our field of research stars known as Heliophysics.
“Parker’s Solar Probe answering the questions of solar physics baffles us for more than six decades,” said Parker Laboratory of Applied Physics at Sonda Solar University’s scientific project Nicola Fox Johns Hopkins.
“It is a spacecraft responsible for the advances that will solve many of the great mysteries about our star, including why the solar crown is much hotter than its surface,” he said.
Parker Solar Probe is on its way to launch during a 20-day window beginning July 31, 2018, NASA said.