Friday, August 10, 2018 at 12:17PM
Drew Wolfe

NASA Braves The Heat To Get Up Close And Personal With Our Sun

"Early Saturday morning, if all goes as planned, 91-year-old Eugene Parker will watch a NASA spacecraft named after him blast off on an unprecedented mission to study the sun."

"'It's my first rocket launch, so that will be very interesting,' says Parker, a retired astrophysicist who lives in Chicago."

"NASA has never named a spacecraft after a living person before. But Parker's colleagues say it's appropriate that this one bears his name. The Parker Solar Probewill get up-close-and-personal with the fiery sun, closer than any spacecraft ever, and Parker is almost a God-like figure among those who study this special star."

"'In our field, he's definitely a celebrity,' says Angela Olinto, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, where Parker worked for decades. 'Most of science is done by a lot of small steps by a lot of different people. He is one of those few people that we know that have made big breakthroughs a few times.'"

"His first came in 1958, when Parker predicted that the sun was constantly spewing out a stream of charged particles at supersonic speeds. He called it the solar wind."


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