If you’ve ever wanted to send a part of you hurtling into the Sun, this is your lucky day. NASA is offering you the chance to send your name rocketing towards our favorite ball of gas aboard the Parker Solar Probe.
The $1.5-billion mission will be the first-ever probe to “touch” the Sun, traveling directly into its atmosphere later this year. The mission will go seven times closer to the Sun than any other man-made object, in order to study its atmosphere.
It’ll go hurtling towards the center of our solar system at speeds of 700,000 kilometers per hour (430,000 miles per hour). “That’s fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, in one second,” NASA wrote.
Your name, if you fancy it, will be included on a memory card within the probe’s payload, traveling at speeds previously unknown to any of your nametags.
The mission will study how energy and heat move through the solar corona (the aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun). By studying the Sun – the only star available for us to study up close – scientists also hope to learn more about stars throughout the Universe. The probe will seek to discover what accelerates solar wind and solar energetic particles, which NASA says it has sought answers to for over 60 years.
Now with thermal engineering advances, NASA is finally able to send a probe that can withstand the immense heat.
At its closest approach, the probe will face temperatures of 1,370°C (2,500°F), but the probe’s solar shields will astonishingly keep the payload (including equipment to image the Sun) at around room temperature. So your name will stay cool, don’t worry. Unless it’s something like “Nigel”, which has never been cool in the first place.
The initiative of sending your name along for the ride, dubbed “Hot Ticket”, was launched this week by Star Trek actor and musical legend William Shatner.
“The first-ever spacecraft to the Sun, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, will launch this year on a course to orbit through the heat of our star’s corona, where temperatures are greater than 1 million degrees,” Shatner said in a video launching the project.
“The spacecraft will also carry my name to the Sun, and your name, and the names of everyone who wants to join this voyage of extreme exploration.”
In order to get your name aboard the probe, it really is as simple as applying. Just go to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe website and enter your details before April 27, 2018.