How close could we get to the Sun in a spacecraft?

The new solar spacecraft, planned for a 2018 launch, will fly closer to the Sun than any human-built object before it, sipping the Sun’s corona. SPP won’t carry humans (or any other life forms), but it still needs protection from our star’s searing heat and damaging radiation.
So, how close could it really get? This might depend on what happens as it sneaks up on the Sun; the probe will take a circuitous, cautious path, like a trainer slowly approaching a wary lion. The short answer is, no one is really sure.
If you’re fair-skinned like me and visited the beach this summer, you know what kind of damage the Sun can do here on Earth, despite our planet’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field. Another 200-odd million miles farther out in the solar system, the story isn’t much better: This spring, fast-moving charged particles from the Sun interfered with the Mars rover Curiosity’s computer, causing engineers to switch to a backup system. Billions and billions of miles from the Sun, the Voyager 1 probe finally stopped hearing signals from the solar wind just last summer. The Sun has a quite large sphere of influence, and the closer you get, the more dangerous the environment becomes.
Shielding a spacecraft from solar radiation is one of the trickiest challenges in spaceflight, but it gets a lot more complicated when you get close to the source. There are three basic kinds of danger, although really only two affect spacecraft, and they offer different challenges.
Full Article


Credit: Rebecca Boyle

How close could we get to the Sun in a spacecraft?

The new solar spacecraft, planned for a 2018 launch, will fly closer to the Sun than any human-built object before it, sipping the Sun’s corona. SPP won’t carry humans (or any other life forms), but it still needs protection from our star’s searing heat and damaging radiation.

So, how close could it really get? This might depend on what happens as it sneaks up on the Sun; the probe will take a circuitous, cautious path, like a trainer slowly approaching a wary lion. The short answer is, no one is really sure.

If you’re fair-skinned like me and visited the beach this summer, you know what kind of damage the Sun can do here on Earth, despite our planet’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field. Another 200-odd million miles farther out in the solar system, the story isn’t much better: This spring, fast-moving charged particles from the Sun interfered with the Mars rover Curiosity’s computer, causing engineers to switch to a backup system. Billions and billions of miles from the Sun, the Voyager 1 probe finally stopped hearing signals from the solar wind just last summer. The Sun has a quite large sphere of influence, and the closer you get, the more dangerous the environment becomes.

Shielding a spacecraft from solar radiation is one of the trickiest challenges in spaceflight, but it gets a lot more complicated when you get close to the source. There are three basic kinds of danger, although really only two affect spacecraft, and they offer different challenges.

Full Article

Credit: Rebecca Boyle


Posted 11 months ago with 147 notes
Tagged:sciencesunspacespacecrafttechnologyAstronomysolar orbiterSPP

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