How cool would it be to actually touch the sun? Well, now you can—kind of. If you submit your name using this online form, it will be included on a memory card that will fly aboard NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, a spacecraft that will be launched toward the sun in July of this year.
This mission is intended to revolutionize our understanding of the sun, providing scientists with new data on solar activity and making important contributions to their ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life here on Earth.
NASA explains the mission of the Parker Solar Probe as follows: “In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the sun.”
The spacecraft will come more than seven times closer to the sun than any of its predecessors, and is equipped with a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield to protect it from the sun’s heat. The launch is planned for July 31, 2018. At its fastest approach, the spacecraft will be going approximately 430,000 mph.
Actor and NASA enthusiast William Shatner is one of the many people whose name will be carried to the sun via the Parker Solar Probe. Watch him talk about it in the video below:
The Parker Solar Probe is named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, which marks this as the first time a NASA spacecraft has been named for a living individual.
“Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest—and, to me, coolest—mission under the Sun,” said project scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we’ve not been able to understand.”
How exciting for both adults and kids who are interested in space travel! Name submissions will be accepted through April 27. Will you send your name to the sun?