NASA is about to launch the fastest manmade object ever

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

The probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Newman Parker, is set to use seven Venus fly-bys over almost seven years to steadily reduce its orbit around the Sun, using instruments created to image the solar wind and study electric and magnetic fields, coronal plasma and energetic particles.

The car-sized probe, which will get within 3.9million miles of the sun's surface, is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday at 8.33am British time.

Scientists hope to unlock mysteries such as why the sun's corona, the outermost layer of its atmosphere, is hotter than its surface.

The probe will travel at 430,000 miles an hour, faster than any spacecraft in history, and use Venus's gravity over the course of seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun.

As the probe orbits the sun, it will experience extreme radiation with temperatures expected to reach 1,377C (2,510F), which is close to the melting point of steel. The $1.5 billion mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun.

On each close approach to the sun, the probe will sample the solar wind, study the sun's corona, and provide close-up observations from around the star.

Image: The spacecraft can withstand enormous heat.

If scientists understand more about solar activity, they could use it to predict large solar eruptions that pose a threat to satellites orbiting the Earth.

NASA says it's ready for a historic trip to the sun this weekend.

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