Last updated April 12, 2018 at 2:15 pm
NASA is offering a unique opportunity – firing your name (or your enemy’s) towards the Sun onboard the Parker Solar Probe.
NASA is offering up a once in a lifetime opportunity – to send your name across the solar system on a spacecraft.
The “Hot Ticket” promotion is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be included on a memory card that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe spacecraft.
The space probe, scheduled to launch in a window that opens in July this year, will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and your name could be along for the ride.
Entries close on April 27, through the website http://go.nasa.gov/HotTicket
Alternatively, you could put your enemy’s name on it, and have the satisfaction of firing them into the sun.
Going where we’ve never been before
The Parker Solar Probe, with your name attached, will plunge directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from the star’s surface.
There, it will trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona, and explore what accelerates the solar wind.
“This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades.”
Understanding the Sun is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star, it supports exploration in the solar system and beyond.
The Sun is, obviously, a brutal place. Any electronics getting as close as the Parker Probe will get would be immediately fried. However, the probe is packing a 11.5cm-thick carbon-composite shield, which will withstand temperatures up to 1400° Celsius.
The shield is so effective the instruments on board will remain at room temperature.
While passing around the sun, four instrument suites will be collecting data on magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind.
Your name will join a living legend
The Parker Solar Probe is names in honour of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. This was the first time NASA named a spacecraft for a living individual.
Professor Parker revolutionised our understanding of the sun, proposing a number of concepts about how stars — including our Sun — give off energy.
He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon.
Parker also came up with an explanation as to why the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, is hotter than the surface of the Sun itself.
His theories and observations shaped our understanding of the Sun and paved the way for all of the solar research of the past 50 years.
When the Parker Solar Probe screams around the Sun at a speed of nearly 700,000 km/h, your name will be in some pretty incredible company.