NASA is giving away tickets to the Sun for free. If you are interested, you can add your name to the mission on the Parker Solar Probe website. The probe will fly into the corona of the Sun, in an effort to understand how solar activity affects the Earth and other planets. The studies conducted by the probe has implications for future deep space missions to the outer Solar System. The atmosphere of the Sun affects all the planets, as it extends beyond their orbits.
Those who send their names to the Sun will get a ticket in the form of a certificate that they can download and print. The certificate is issued by NASA, and has the wordings “VIP Pass” on it. The deadline for submitting the names is 27 April, 2018. The names will be sent on the Parker Solar Probe on a microchip. Unfortunately, you will not be getting frequent flyer points for participating. The Parker Solar Probe mission is not part of the Frequent Flyer Club outreach program. The program has previously allowed the public to gain points and a boarding pass for sending their names to Mars on board the InSight mission, also scheduled for a 2018 launch.
The Parker Solar Probe will approach the Sun at a distance that is seven times closer than any other spacecraft before it. The probe has a 4.5-inch thick carbon composite heat shield to protect the sensitive instruments from the extreme conditions near the face of the Sun. Solar wind in these regions reach supersonic speeds, and the temperature is expected to be around 1,377 degrees Celsius. It has a long journey to the Sun though, the probe will execute seven slingshot manoeuvres around Venus over a period of seven years to get on the trajectory to the Sun. The probe is scheduled for a Summer 2018 launch, and will only arrive at the Sun in 2024.
A scientist working on the mission, Nicola Fox said, “Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest — and, to me, coolest — mission under the Sun. This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we’ve not been able to understand.”