Even the most dedicated sky-watching hobbyists must accept the fact that observing the amazing achievements of NASA and other space agencies is as close as they are to participating in the exploration of the cosmos. With the Parker Solar Probe, which will come on the market this summer, NASA is trying to change that. The probe will explore the sun's atmosphere in a way never before done, and it will truly be an incredible achievement to pull it off. The best part is that you are invited!
NASA has just launched the so-called "Hot Ticket" program, which allows members of the public to participate in the mission of the solar probe by storing their names on a tiny memory card placed in the probe. It's little more than a symbolic gesture for space fans, but it's still pretty cool, and here's how to sign up.
Simply enter your name and email on NASA's sign up page and submit your request. Once you have done so, you must confirm your request by clicking on a link sent by NASA. You will be taken to a new page where you can confirm your entry and receive your digital "ticket" for the journey.
The Parker Solar Probe will be the most intense journey of all people exposed to spacecraft until today. Its heat shield will be over four inches thick to protect it from the intense heat of the sun. It will orbit the star at a distance of nearly 4 million miles, and it will have to endure temperatures of almost 2500 degrees Celsius. Despite this intense heat, the instruments in the probe remain at about "room temperature" according to NASA.
The probe, which is about the size of a small car, will make several loops around the Sun during its mission, getting closer and closer as they gather data about the star's magnetic field and atmosphere. This information will help inform scientists and hopefully expand our knowledge of how our sun works. The current mission timeline for the probe will last until 2025, but could receive more advanced missions depending on its evolution.