In the early hours of Saturday morning, NASA is scheduled to launch the Parker Solar Probe for a seven-year mission to study the sun and its atmosphere. The spacecraft will take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, traveling up to 430,000 miles per hour towards the star — that will make it the fastest spacecraft ever. Assuming you’re reading this story around the time it’s published, you still have time to watch the launch via NASA’s livestream. The launch window for the Parker Solar Probe opens at 3:33 a.m. ET Saturday, but the exact launch time is unknown. The New York Times has published a story about Eugene N. Parker, the professor that the spacecraft was named after. It is the first time that NASA has named a mission for a living person. Here’s an excerpt from the report: In a foundational paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, Dr. Parker described how charged particles streamed continuously from the sun, like the flow of water spreading outward from a circular fountain. Almost no one believed him. […] Four years later, Dr. Parker was vindicated when Mariner 2, a NASA spacecraft en route to Venus, measured energetic particles streaming through interplanetary space — exactly what Dr. Parker had predicted. Scientists now call that stream of particles the solar wind.
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