US space agency Nasa has launched its mission to send a satellite closer to the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida and is set to become the fastest-moving man made object in history. Its promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun’s behaviour.
The Delta-IV Heavy rocket -which was carrying the probe, lunched today at 03:31 local time (07:31 GMT). It came after a failed attempt yesterday, when a last-minute alarm caused the agency to miss its 65-minute weather window.
This is the first space craft to be named after a living person – astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, who first described solar wind in 1958. The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just 6.16 million km (3.83 million miles) from the Sun’s broiling “surface”.
Just under an hour after the launch, Nasa confirmed that the spacecraft had successfully separated and the probe had been released into space.
The rockets aims to dip directly into our star’s outer atmosphere, and will zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that.