But when the Parker Solar Probe launches Saturday morning, it will have to take an indirect route.
The launch promises to be an exciting one, requiring about 55 times the energy needed to reach Mars.
Perched atop a heavy-lift United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket, Parker will blast off from pad 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:33 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) Saturday. Sometime between August 11 and 23, the close of the launch period, these names and 1,400 pounds of solar protection and science equipment will begin their journey to the center of our solar system.
WISPR will look at the large-scale structure of matter spewing outward from the Sun as it approaches the probe, to compliment the detailed physical measurements of other instruments.
After launch, the spacecraft will head toward Venus, whose gravity will bend its path into the correct orbit. From Earth, it will head towards Venus, where it will execute the first of seven flybys.
"Eight long years of hard work by countless engineers and scientists is finally paying off", Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. The $1.5-billion, car-sized spacecraft is created to provide a close look at the sun's atmosphere - what astronomers call the corona - to answer enduring questions about this ultra-hot region of our nearest star.
While it is hoped that the probe will retrieve some scientific data, the main objective is to simply record some images of the sun from a much closer distance than we are now capable of. Although that sounds far, researchers equate this to the probe sitting on the 4-yard line of a football field and the sun being the end zone. The spacecraft will repeatedly fly through the sun's outer atmosphere to find out why the blazing corona is millions of degrees hotter than our star's visible surface.
"It constantly flows out from the sun at about a million miles an hour and flows throughout our solar system", he said.
Why send a probe to the sun? . And what powers the solar wind, the stream of charged particles that flows outward from the corona at speeds on the order of a million miles per hour?
"As a technological society, what comes toward the earth matters", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's science missions.
"They reach Earth" - 150 million kilometres (more than 90 million miles) distant - "in 30 to 60 minutes". "We have not been able to answer these questions". When the particles are spewed toward Earth with sufficient strength, the effect can disrupt radio communications, harm satellites, and in extreme cases, interfere with power grids.
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The problem on Saturday had to do with the gaseous helium pressure alarm on the spacecraft, officials said early Saturday. He proposed the existence of solar wind - a steady, supersonic stream of particles blasting off the sun - 60 years ago.
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But what part of this mission will "touch" the sun?
The white heat shield will keep the spacecraft instruments a cooler 85 degrees.
An artist's rendition of the PSP venturing close to the Sun's surface.
On Friday, the Parker Solar Probe mission and launch teams concluded a successful Launch Readiness Review. Furthermore, some solar particles manage to accrue enough energy in the corona to reach half the speed of light, yet the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are unclear. "We need to go so fast because we have to lose the influence of the Earth". "Our ability to forecast space weather is about as good as our weather forecasts were in the 1970s". "But I'll betcha 10 bucks it succeeds".
"Parker Solar Probe uses Venus to adjust its course and slow down in order to put the spacecraft on the best trajectory", said Driesman.
Before Parker, the record-holder for closest solar pass was the Helios 2 spacecraft, which went within 27 million miles in 1976.
Less than two years after Parker's paper was published, his theory of solar wind was confirmed by satellite observations.
Just outside the Sun's atmosphere lies the emptiness of space.
Parker is now the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago.
The Parker mission is very important for astronomers, as it could provide answers to questions that have been asked for decades.
"We can't agree on what's actually going on", Kasper said.