The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will turn 60 this year in 2018 and the American space agency is has a lot of missions on their to-do list, which they aim to accomplish this year. One of the most ambitious projects of NASA this year is to "touch" the sun.
Reportedly, the Parker Solar Probe of NASA, which is supposed to reach the sun, is scheduled to be launched somewhere between July 31 and August 19 from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The aim of the probe would be to explore the outer atmosphere of the star. The probe will use Venus' gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun, according to a NASA statement.
"Parker Solar Probe will use Venus' gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun," stated NASA.
"The spacecraft will fly through the sun's atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star's surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before, (earth's average distance to the sun is 93 million miles)," added the space agency.
Parker Solar Probe would conduct all its tests and investigations at one of the most perilous regions with a severe amount of solar radiation and heat. The main objectives of this mission are - tracking how heat and energy shift through sun's solar corona and exploring what speeds up the solar energetic particles and the solar wind. In turn, the findings will "revolutionize our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind. It will also make critical contributions to our ability to forecast changes in earth's space environment that affect life and technology on earth," added the space agency in their blog post.
Other than this solar mission, this year the American space agency will also send another robotic land rover, InSight Mars lander, to Mars to analyze and comprehend the surface as well as the interior of the Red Planet better.