Washington Post

This NASA spacecraft will get closer to the sun than anything ever before

Members of the integration and testing team roll Parker Solar Probe into the acoustic test chamber at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Foto: Ed Whitman/NASA/Johns Hopkins APL.

Shortly after NASA was established in 1958, the nation's top scientists compiled a list of missions they thought the brand-new space agency should pursue. The proposals were heady, considering at that point only three satellites had ever been launched. Researchers suggested an Earth-orbiting telescope that could detect the universe's most distant stars, probes that would venture to the solar system's other planets, an initiative to land humans on the surface of the moon.

With time, each of those dreams became a reality - the Hubble Space Telescope, the twin Voyager spacecraft, the Apollo program. All except one: an effort to get a close look at the sun, the source of Earth's light and heat, as well as solar storms that could disrupt our satellites and fry our electric grid...

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