NASA plans to release new information about its sun mission early Wednesday, offering details on the mission set to launch in the summer of 2018.
NASA’s mission to "touch the sun" – Solar Probe Plus – marks the agency’s first mission to fly into the sun’s atmosphere, according to USA Today.
The agency will announce the new details at the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center Auditorium, and the event will air live on NASA television and on its website at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
"Placed in orbit within four million miles of the sun's surface, and facing heat and radiation unlike any spacecraft in history, the spacecraft will explore the sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations that will answer decades-old questions about the physics of how stars work," NASA said in a statement.
Observations made during the mission are also expected to answer questions about space weather events that affect Earth.
According to the Solar Probe Plus website, a recent study points to just how crucial this mission is for the U.S.
"One recent study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the U.S. alone, and the eastern seaboard of the U.S. could be without power for a year," noted on the Solar Probe Plus website.
Plans for this new mission come after NASA recently announced that it would launch its Psyche probe to a metallic asteroid – located between Mars and Jupiter – in August of 2022 instead of October of 2023 as originally planned, according to The Space Reporter.
By launching this probe a year early, the probe is expected to reach the asteroid and begin orbiting around it by 2026 instead of the original 2030 target date.
"We challenged the mission team to explore if an earlier launch date could provide a more efficient trajectory to the asteroid Psyche, and they came through in a big way," said Jim Green, the director of NASA’s planetary science division.
"This will enable us to fulfill our science objectives sooner and at a reduced cost," he added.
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