NASA sun probe honors MSU grad

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP/WLNS) — The NASA spacecraft that will aim straight for the sun next year will have a Michigan State University connection.

The space agency announced the red-hot mission Wednesday at the University of Chicago.

Scheduled to launch in summer 2018, the Solar Probe Plus will fly within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface — right into the solar atmosphere. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before.

The purpose is to study the sun’s outer atmosphere and better understand how stars like ours work.

The announcement came during a ceremony honoring astrophysicist Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and a 1948 graduate of Michigan State University.

According to NASA, in 1958 Parker contended that there was high speed matter and magnetism escaping the sun that affected the entire solar system.

That was proven true many times and is now known as the solar wind.

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