US space agency NASA has delayed its mission to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before.
A BBC News report said that the Parker Solar Probe was set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on today, but last-minute investigations have delayed it for 24 hours. It is now scheduled to blast off – on board the mammoth Delta-IV Heavy rocket – on Sunday morning.
The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history. The rocket was on the launch pad when the countdown clock was interrupted, as officials investigated an alarm.
Nasa had a weather window of 65 minutes to launch, but the time elapsed before the issue could be resolved. The probe aims to dip directly into our star’s outer atmosphere, or corona.
Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun’s behaviour – assuming it can survive roasting temperatures above 1,000C. The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that.
Dr Nicky Fox, the British-born project scientist said over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate. Parker will help to better understand how the Sun works.