Even the most dedicated sky watching hobbyists have to accept the fact that observing the amazing accomplishments of NASA and other space-faring organizations is as close as they’ll get to participating in the exploration of the cosmos. NASA is trying to change that ever so slightly with its Parker Solar Probe which is slated to launch this summer. The probe will explore the Sun’s atmosphere in a way that’s never been done before, and it will truly be an incredible achievement if they can pull it off. The best part is that you’re invited!
NASA just launched what it calls the “Hot Ticket” program to allow members of the general public to participate in the solar probe mission by having their names included in a tiny memory card that will be placed in the probe. It’s little more than a symbolic gesture for space fans but it’s still pretty cool, and here’s how to sign up.
Simply enter your name and email on NASA’s sign-up page and submit your request. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to confirm your request by clicking on an email link sent from NASA. It’ll take you to a new page where you can confirm your submission and receive your digital “ticket” for the voyage.
The Parker Solar Probe will be subjected to the most intense journey of any manmade spacecraft to date. Its heat shield will be over four inches thick in order to protect it from the Sun’s intense heat. It will orbit the star at a distance of just under 4 million miles, and it will have to endure temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite that intense heat, the instruments housed within the probe will remain at roughly “room temperature” according to NASA.
The probe, which is about the size of a small car, will make multiple loops around the Sun during its mission, inching ever closer while gathering data about the star’s magnetic field and atmosphere. That information will help inform scientists and hopefully expand our knowledge of how our Sun works. The current mission timeline for the probe stretches to 2025, but could be given additional extended missions depending on how things pan out.