technology

NASA Wants to Blast Your Name to the Very Edge of the Sun

  • Parker solar probe will be the fastest human-made object ever
  • Rocket reached pad Monday, expected to launch by mid-August

Parker Solar Probe

Source: NASA

NASA wants to blast you, your family and your friends into space. Well, your names at least.

The space agency is accepting until April 27 names that will be included on the Parker Solar Probe, which will get closer to the sun than anything we’ve ever sent into space. Once launched, some time between July 31 and Aug. 19, it will eventually become the fastest human-made object, reaching a top speed of 430,000 miles (692,000 kilometers) per hour, said Nicola Fox, a project scientist for the mission with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

During its seven-year mission, the probe will make seven Venus flybys, gradually shrinking its orbit. It will eventually enter the sun’s corona, getting within 4 million miles of the surface, Fox said at the annual Space Weather Workshop in Westminster, Colorado.

Parker probe will get within 4 million miles of sun’s surface

NASA/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

During its closest approach, the heat shield will absorb a blistering 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 Celsius) while keeping the payload at room temperature. The probe is now in Florida and the Delta IV rocket rolled out to its launchpad Monday.

The mission will boost understanding of the sun, which can send energy at the Earth with the potential to knock out power grids and communications, damage satellites and bathe high-flying aircrews and astronauts with radiation.

The probe is named for Eugene Parker, a professor emeritus in the University of Chicago’s astronomy and astrophysics department who coined the term solar wind in the 1950s and described how the sun and other stars give off the energy that drives space weather.

Names submitted at the mission’s website will be included on microchip memory card on board the probe, an effort to spur public interest in the mission.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE