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NASA Preps Closest-Ever Sun Mission

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the ask-your-actuary-if-you'll-be-around dept.

NASA 111

coondoggie writes "NASA today said it had picked five experiments that will ride aboard one of its most ambitious space missions to explore the Sun. The Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft, is scheduled to launch no later than 2018 and will fly closer to the Sun's surface than any other probe, NASA stated. Ultimately the spacecraft's goals are to help scientists understand why the sun's outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun's visible surface and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system, NASA said."

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Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471728)

Their own NASA SOHO C3 satelite films pictures of foreign craft [youtube.com] fly next to the sun,
yet NASA will not ackowledge this fact they should be researching and developing to
stimulate civilian arts as metalurgy rather than waste U$10k/lb putting their combusting
junk into orbit.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471988)

NASA did not tell about the large comet (twice the size of Jupiter)
Because NASA would have to tell us about the laser attack on our sun.
AND about this wormhole.

Tinfoil-hat comedy gold.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472222)

I don't see what the comedy is about. Why does NASA cancel all the public-access
to their visual satellite feeds? We pay for NASA, and they violate their charter
when they prevent us access to these that we payed in full to develop and launch
and maintain in their orbittal positions.

I guess it's only Tinfoil-hat comedy "gold" when Larry the Cable Guy points at it
on /. while hiding behind Anonymous Coward like Jeff Foxworthy does. You truly are
as smart as a 5th-grader, AC.

[quote]
Tinfoil-hat comedy gold.
[/quote]

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 4 years ago | (#33473154)

I'm not about to waste my time doing the math here, but I'm relatively certain that anything "twice the size of Jupiter" that was actually dense enough to be a solid (comets are solid) would actually be a star, not a comet...

Jupiter itself is pretty close to being a star. Something twice as big and far more massive? Well one thing is certain: it's not going to be very icy.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (2, Informative)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33473262)

Jupiter would need to be about 75 times as massive to become a star...

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 4 years ago | (#33473988)

Exactly, pretty damn close...

Anyway, according to wikipedia the diameter of Jupiter is 142,984 km, so we use this as the radius of our "comet" to get a volume of 1.224×10^16 km^3. Using the mean density of Jupiter (1.3 g/cm^3), we get a mass of 1.623×10^28 kg.

Wikipedia lists the lower end of masses for red dwarfs as .0075 solar masses, so our hypothetical comet would be approximately one tenth the mass it would need to be to be considered a red dwarf. This is assuming the guessed density was reasonable, something I'm certainly not sure of.

Regardless, the pressure would be sufficient to ensure that the water in the core stayed in liquid form, not ice. I don't know what you'd call this body. It doesn't fit any definition of "comet" that I can find due to it's absurd size, and it's definitely not a planet either (comets highly elliptical orbits. if this does as well then it's not clearing the neighbourhood around its orbit). I doubt something with these properties could ever even form.

No matter how you slice it, "comet twice the size of Jupiter" reeks of idiocy.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33474158)

Yea, because your observation from your parents' basement of a 2-dimensional photograph of a celestial body in outer space obviously co-incides with all the science that you know yet couldn't save you if ever you relied on your primitive means to dodge said orbittal bombardment.

I laugh at how much junk science in Colleges and Universities is nothing more that teaching everyone to be un-critical assholes that have nothing constructive to apply that science onto because it's all a mathematical gimick to fund the lifestyle of failed scientists that hide in the Education System.

Go back to school, and earn those titles and certifications you sweet-smelling swine! Let's see you make your
own comet and fly it into outer-space.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 4 years ago | (#33479078)

Maybe before you take a whack at this "internet arguing" thing, you should get a firmer grasp on the language you're choosing to do it in. I'm rather certain you don't even know what most of those words mean.

It's like someone is just posting output of a Markov chain built up with all the troll and pseudo-science spewing slashdot posts they could find.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 4 years ago | (#33477528)

Jupiter would need to be about 75 times as massive to become a star...

It should really go on a talent show or something, to boost its exposure.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472136)

...because NASA is about space exploration, not making horse shoes.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#33472256)

Because they're too busy trying to figure out the SPACE LAZORS!

Sheesh, does that moron even know what a laser is?

Compare a SPACE LAZOR to a LIGHT SABER. :-) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472470)

Lazors made by man are usually nothing highly ineffectient having no termination point, yet all the reports from abductees always reference the beams of light levitating them off the ground as though a dimensional breach of consistent matter drawing them to it's source while radiating light energy.

The "artifacts" in the video are actual photographs of a LIVE LEAKED STREAM taken over the course over the year, and are not blurs from failed photography: they are actual RAYS of light that penetrate the sun from a source. Basic geometry here, idiot. Enjoy being modded-up to conceal your flamebait that does more to silence discussion rather than answer questions.

Re:Compare a SPACE LAZOR to a LIGHT SABER. :-) (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#33475498)

Well, as long as we're cross-referencing the reports of alien abductees, with an analysis of photography premised on the non-existence of noise, with the properties of fictional devices, then I must take back my criticism as there is no possible flaw in this analysis. There's only one reasonable conclusion:

ZOMG TEHYR SHOOTIN OUR SUN WIT DERE SPACE LAZORS!

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (2, Informative)

jonfr (888673) | about 4 years ago | (#33472306)

This video and it's maker deserve to be called stupid.

As they don't know that the white dot is a planet Venus or Mercury.

That person also doesn't know comets and meteor from background noise on the SOHO image.

This video is not even worth my time wasting it on this video.

Re:Why does NASA not fund metalurgical research? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#33475680)

This video is not even worth my time wasting it on this video.

I dunno, I watched the whole thing, and I thought it was very much worth it for all the laughs.

I loved how it was all still shots of a video feed. What, no consecutive shots showing the same phenomenon? How bizarre! I guess the Jupiter-sized comet and the wormhole just pop in and out of existence between frames.

I loved how it was definitely a wormhole because it was vaguely funnel-shaped. Can you imagine what this person would think if they looked at real space phenomenon? Oh my god, the Horsehead Nebulae is actually a real Space Horse!

But I think my favorite part was "This I'm not sure of... maybe a propulsion system?" Oh! Well, as long as you admit you aren't sure about something, then surely you're just a rational mind going where the evidence leads you and not just using your Jump to Conclusions mat that has a single square labeled "It's teh aliens!" Cus you can be totally sure that really was a wormhole.

Pfst... (4, Funny)

bigredradio (631970) | about 4 years ago | (#33471734)

I don't see all the fuss. Why not just go at night?

Re:Pfst... (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 years ago | (#33471776)

or when it's cloudy

Re:Pfst... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471830)

... or during an eclipse?

Re:Pfst... (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 years ago | (#33472052)

a cloudy day during an eclipse on the winter solstice.

Re:Pfst... (2, Funny)

ian_from_brisbane (596121) | about 4 years ago | (#33473472)

a cloudy night during an eclipse on the winter solstice.

Re:Pfst... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471866)

I don't see all the fuss. Why not just go at night?

You mean, when the sun is beneath the earth? You can't launch a rocket into the ground, dumbass! The Soviets have tried, repeatedly. ...besides, it'll be hard to find in the dark..

Re:Pfst... (1)

Lev13than (581686) | about 4 years ago | (#33472020)

I don't see all the fuss. Why not just go at night?

They have to leave in the morning, so that the ship can get there in time for Disaster Area's finale. Just remember not to hit any of the black buttons.

Re:Pfst... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472464)

that shit wasn't even funny the FIRST TIME i heard it.... please let that die

what's supposed to be funny? there isn't a "night" when you're going straight for the sun....

oh is that the joke? wow.... so funny!

Re:Pfst... (2, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 4 years ago | (#33472888)

Because they need to see the sun in order to make their measurements? Have you ever tried making accurate measurements in a dark room? That just doesn't work at all. They need light to read their instruments (and of course to make sure they're pointing in the right direction; you don't want to accidentally measure Mercury!), thus they go during the day.

Re:Pfst... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33476198)

you don't want to accidentally measure Mercury

That's a very insightful tip, as we all know that mercury is poisonous to the touch!

Re:Pfst... (3, Funny)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 4 years ago | (#33473478)

I don't see all the fuss. Why not just go at night?

If you bothered to read a bit more about the probe (yeah, it's Slashdot, who bothers to read?), you'd learn that the probe is going as close as 3 Solar Radii to the surface. The Sun's radius (it is correct to assume equatorial radius rather than mean radius for this purpose), is 6.955×10^5 km, meaning the probe will get as close as 2.087 x 10^6km at which point it states the solar radiation will have been sufficient to heat the probe to 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now, that radiation will not suddenly appear at a distance of 3 solar radii. The temperature is an accumulation of the radiation on the journey to that point as well as (and this is perhaps where you went wrong), that accumulated on the return journey up until the point that rate of heat absorption is exceeded by the rate of heat dissipation. What that means, is that although you propose "going at night" as a solution, the probe would in fact have to make it not only too a distance of 3 Solar Radii from the Sun during the hours of night, but also make the journey back again to a safe distance before morning. Even if they timed the mission during Winter (and this is irrelevant as the team are going for a May launch), you'd still face a limited window of around twelve hours. The rate of heat absorption from the Sun's energies will follow an inverse square law and I think it reasonable to consider significant heat build up therefore to kick in around 5 solar radii distance. Remember that heat dissipation in a vacuum is no trivial matter! So basically, in those twelve hours, you'd not only have to traverse a distance of 1.4*10^6km, but completely reverse your momentum to turn around and go back again. This is obviously unfeasible. Even if a spacecraft could be built that could take this sort of stress (strictly in the realms of sci-fi for now), you'd never carry sufficient fuel to generate this amount of energy. True, you could launch your probe from the extreme North or South, where night lasts much longer, but polar launches are extremely extravagant users of fuel - it is pretty much a requirement to launch from the Equatorial band.

So in short, your idea is a nice fantasy, but impractical if you actually understand the Physics involved.

Re:Pfst... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33473662)

If you bothered to read a bit more about the probe (yeah, it's Slashdot, who bothers to read?), you'd learn that the probe is going as close as 3 Solar Radii to the surface.

Ummm what the fuck is a radii? Yeah..I think they were all making jokes and you responded with a bunch of serious data. You must be new here.

Re:Pfst... (2, Funny)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 4 years ago | (#33473730)

Ummm what the fuck is a radii?

"Radii" [wikipedia.org] - plural of radius, as in the term used by NASA "solar radii" that they use in their published material on the probe. That's what the fuck "a radii" is.

Yeah..I think they were all making jokes and you responded with a bunch of serious data. You must be new here.

Whereas you are clearly an old-hand at Slashdot since you've progressed from not merely RTFA, to not even RTFC to which you're replying. Yeah - my analysis of why visiting the Sun at night isn't feasible due to limits on acelleration is entirely a serious matter. :)

Muppet.

Re:Pfst... (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 years ago | (#33475492)

I got it straight away, but them I'm not American.
I understand that in American hopsitals, right after birth they automatically chop off all the baby's body parts that have been deemed 'potentially troublesome'. Foreskin, sarcasm gland, taste buds, etc. etc.

Re:Pfst... (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | about 4 years ago | (#33475026)

... you'd still face a limited window of around twelve hours. ... Remember that heat dissipation in a vacuum is no trivial matter! ... you could launch your probe from the extreme North or South, where night lasts much longer ...

This is supposed to be funny, mods!

Heat shielding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471766)

And how are they gonna shield that probe from the heat? Let me guess, they fly at night? :D

Re:Heat shielding? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 4 years ago | (#33471822)

Paint it white. =)

Re:Heat shielding? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33471852)

With metaphasic shielding, you can fly INTO the sun.

Re:Heat shielding? (1)

fucket (1256188) | about 4 years ago | (#33472158)

I oppose using taxpayer money to purchase Ferengi technology.

Re:Heat shielding? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | about 4 years ago | (#33473684)

I oppose using taxpayer money to purchase Ferengi technology.

We had to buy Ferengi because the Romulan tech was too expensive. Those fuckers wanted 20 bars of gold pressed latinum while the Ferengi only wanted 10. Shoehornjob

Re:Heat shielding? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33476208)

Why not? They made us a great deal, they're only making a 325% profit margin!

Dipshits (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472518)

Thanks to dipshits like you, the first relevant comment is several pages down, after a bunch of attempts to be funny. A few of those attempts were very mildly successful. The rest were not.

Can't you dipshits go back to Digg? I'm all for humor but when I want entertainment Slashdot is one of the last places I'd go. Alas, Slashdot is descending into the average infotainment type of media hellhole that the rabble and the riff-raff and other dumb masses consume in very large quantities. God forbid that anything remain a contrast to that for very long. Slashdot had a good run though, it remained intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking for several years and still has the occasional gem. Then everyone had to be a comedian, but there was only one problem: almost none of you are any good at it.

Re:Dipshits (4, Funny)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 4 years ago | (#33472710)

Can't you dipshits go back to Digg?

I liked the annual September flamefest better when it was Usenet vs AOL.

Re:Dipshits (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | about 4 years ago | (#33474552)

Me too.

Re:Dipshits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33474724)

Please add me to the list.

Re:Dipshits (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33473276)

Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays. On a Friday evening no less...

Re:Heat shielding? (2, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | about 4 years ago | (#33472120)

I'll admit that my source for this is the Sunshine DVD's commentary track, but...

The surface of the sun is not nearly as hot as the re-entry temperatures for some of the probes returning to Earth; and they don't plan on going anywhere near the surface of the sun with the Solar Probe.. 2 million kilometers or something (according to that same DVD).

They'll be fine with the tech for shielding against heat that we've already got.

Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (1)

Mandrel (765308) | about 4 years ago | (#33472534)

To get even closer they'd have to fluid-cool the heat shield to stop it melting. So is there a faster way to cool a fluid than by passive radiation? Say, converting the energy into a laser, or some form of luminescence?

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 years ago | (#33472614)

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a mirror.

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472626)

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a mirror.

To cool a fluid?

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (4, Informative)

bertok (226922) | about 4 years ago | (#33472806)

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a mirror.

You joke, but that's precisely what everyone does already. That gold foil that you see covering spacecraft is used because gold is an excellent reflector of infrared light.

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472988)

"So is there a faster way to cool a fluid than by passive radiation? Say, converting the energy into a laser..."

[farnsworth]
Good News, everyone! I've just invented a robotically controlled laser radiator powered by the very Sun itself! Now, if only I can get it to stop destroying major metropolitan areas...
[/farnsworth]

Go with the reflective/ablative protection, I say.

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 years ago | (#33473120)

Thermodynamics fail. Energy conversion isn't just a concept, there are natural limits as to what you can do. Running a laser as a way of dumping heat is just a surefire way of having to dump a good 80-90% of said heat as, well, waste heat.

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (1)

Mandrel (765308) | about 4 years ago | (#33473306)

OK, so a high-efficiency high-capacity radiating process must be found. At the moment, lasers aren't that efficient. Perhaps antennas can do better, or some sort of luminescence. Then let a passive radiator handle the waste.

Or does thermodynamics say that if you can't connect to a colder place, you can't beat a passive radiator?

Re:Actively radiating heat to get even closer? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 years ago | (#33474782)

Unless you can cope with the weight of a thermoelectric pile, the only other way of generating electricity is by running a thermal engine of some sort. And those are notoriously inefficient. Add to that inefficiencies in power conversion and transmitter system (no matter what the wavelength), and you'll never be able to get rid of more than perhaps 25% of the heat.

That's nowhere near good enough to warrant all the trouble in the first place. If reduce the amount of heat to radiate using passive radiators is merely 25%, you may as well go all the way and radiate all 100% of it.

So yes, thermodynamics says that if you have no cold plate, the passive radiator is all you get to dissipate heat in a system with no mass flow (materially isolated, but not thermally isolated).

The Solar probe... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471802)

"will fly closer to the Sun's surface than any other probe" ...unless the wings are made of wax....

Will it be a night launch (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33471810)

Just wondering.

When it comes to naming the mission... (5, Funny)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 4 years ago | (#33471862)

...I hope they don't decide to call it Icarus

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (2, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33471882)

IKAROS [wikipedia.org] has already been used.

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | about 4 years ago | (#33471888)

if only I had some mod points for ya !

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (0, Offtopic)

causality (777677) | about 4 years ago | (#33472530)

if only I had some mod points for ya !

"-1 Predictable" isn't a moderation option. The closest you can get is Redundant.

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33471938)

They very well could, as far as I'm concerned. When you think about it, that old myth is quite close to what this probe will do. And what might very well destroy it... (thought it seems it's meant to survive many close approaches [wikipedia.org] )

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (3, Insightful)

SIGBUS (8236) | about 4 years ago | (#33472004)

I was thinking that they stole Hotblack Desiato's stuntship.

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (0, Offtopic)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | about 4 years ago | (#33472030)

Disaster Area is my favorite band !

Re:When it comes to naming the mission... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33476254)

I hope so too, because the last thing NASA needs is a lawsuit from Nintendo [wikipedia.org] !

I thought they already knew why corona is hotter.. (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 years ago | (#33471898)

Ultimately the spacecraft's goals are to help scientists understand why the sun's outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun's visible surface and what propels the solar wind ...

I thought they'd figured that out (recently): Vibrations of the solar magnetic field line loops pump energy into the plasma fraction of the gas above the visible "surface", heating it. Reconnection of the lines cause the new loops to expand like released springs, catapulting the entrapped plasma outward.

Didn't that work out once they finished the math on the details?

Re:I thought they already knew why corona is hotte (2)

ruffled (1176397) | about 4 years ago | (#33472174)

Vibrations of the solar magnetic field line loops pump energy into the plasma fraction of the gas above the visible "surface", heating it. Reconnection of the lines cause the new loops to expand like released springs, catapulting the entrapped plasma outward.

Discoveries like these really make you wonder and marvel at the incredible physics of the universe. I mean, who makes up all this stuff? It's just incredible to see atoms and molecules self-align themselves according to pre-planned rules like gravity, electromagnetism etc in a seeminly random way to create what is.

Re:I thought they already knew why corona is hotte (1)

L33tminion (908158) | about 4 years ago | (#33472552)

Presumably, they're trying to make measurements that will confirm (or contradict) that theoretical work.

Re:I thought they already knew why corona is hotte (3, Informative)

f3r (1653221) | about 4 years ago | (#33473530)

from what I know, all that is based on heavy numerical simulations (prone to errors in the assumptions, lack of more thorough numerics, etc). The simulations are based on parameters determined from measurements made from distances longer than those that will be reached with this new probe, and on assumptions also extrapolated from everything observed "from here". Summed up, that explanation could be right or completely wrong. We have to measure more and from smaller distances.

Not true (1, Funny)

kpainter (901021) | about 4 years ago | (#33471904)

Actually, if you RTFA, it says the project will burn money as if it flew close to the sun.

Re:Not true (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33471942)

NASA gets a tiny tiny fraction of a penny of every tax dollar you pay. Why don't you go troll the Defense Department?

Re:Not true (1)

kpainter (901021) | about 4 years ago | (#33472016)

NASA gets a tiny tiny fraction of a penny of every tax dollar you pay

I guess 52% of a penny is "tiny tiny". Still, I don't disagree. They don't cost that much. I was just making a joke. Get a sense of humor NASAboi.

Re:Not true (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 4 years ago | (#33472762)

I thought their budget was in the 10b range, which would put it closer to 1/10th of a penny. I wouildn't call that extremely tiny fraction of a penny, but thats 1/1000th of your tax dollar. or 0.1% of the budget total. I'm going to have to agree with you yelling at the DoD for wastage instead.

Re:Not true (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#33472454)

So does the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons program (their budget is 30% larger, but still only a tiny fraction my taxes). But that neither here nor there. I just grow tired of all fanboi-ism surrounding NASA. I think it's beneficial for humankind to explore space too. And there are genuine NASA inventions that directly benefit some people. But it seems that sometimes what is touted as a "NASA invention" were really a "NASA funded invention" from private organizations. I would be like saying CERN "invented" the WWW because Berners-Lee invented it while being funded by CERN.

Not to mention all the completely mythical claims that NASA invented the MRI, the barcode, smoke detector, Velcro, etc.. It's hard for me to keep my dream of space alive amid all the legalisitc doublespeak and misinformation.

After analysis... (1)

nebaz (453974) | about 4 years ago | (#33471946)

all that it discovers is a booming voice shouting BURN WITH ME!

NASA Said? (1)

dsci (658278) | about 4 years ago | (#33471972)

How does "NASA" SAY anything? This is like "The White House Said..."

Re:NASA Said? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#33472242)

Right, which human beings versed in natural language communication automatically interpret as "Official spokespersons for NASA said".

You'll have to work on that before you can pass the Turing Test. :)

Re:NASA Said? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 4 years ago | (#33472266)

I don't know if you know this, but there is a difference between an organization and individuals in an organization, even when those individuals are at the very top. In some cases, they are effectively the same, for instance when the leader of that organization is in near complete control, he can directly speak for the organization. The White House is an example of this. Even then, though, the President often uses a spokesperson. In that case, the President didn't say it, but it is also definitely not the spokesperson's position - he's just a mouthpiece. In that case, the appropriate phraseology is "The White House said".

In organizations where the power is more distributed, no one person takes a position for the entire company - this is like most government agencies and most public corporations. NASA is a real good example of this. No matter who does the actually speaking in this case, when they speak for the organization as a whole, they are nothing more than a spokesperson. Thus, the most appropriate way to phrase NASA's position in a matter is to use the phraseology: "NASA said".

Get it?

sun seems closer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472002)

maybe it's just our lack of a genuine atmosphere? it's doubtful anything will get close enough to the sun to goof it up, but there's no doubt that we'll try.

Calvin's Dad has all the answers... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472082)

From various C&H cartoons, a bunch of his Dad's quotes are collected here: http://elise.com/quotes/a/ask_calvins_dad.php [elise.com] Q. Why does the sun set? A. It's because hot air rises. The sun's hot in the middle of the day, so it rises high in the sky. In the evening then, it cools down and sets. Q. Why does it go from east to west? A. Solar wind. Q. Why does the sky turn red as the sun sets? A. That's all the oxygen in the atmosphere catching fire. Q. Where does the sun go when it sets? A. The sun sets in the west. In Arizona actually, near Flagstaff. That's why the rocks there are so red. Q. Don't the people get burned up? A. No, the sun goes out as it sets. That's why it's dark at night. Q. Doesn't the sun crush the whole state as it lands? A. Ha ha, of course not. Hold a quarter up. See, the sun's just about the same size. Q. I thought I read that the sun was really big. A. You can't believe everything you read, I'm afraid.

When the probe has reached the end of its life... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472190)

...will they set the controls for the heart of the sun?

Manned mission (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472276)

When do we land a human on the Sun? It's only exploration if it's done by humans.

Not only is the earth resource limited, so are all of the planets. We must terraform and colonize the Sun!

Re:Manned mission (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#33472354)

When do we land a human on the Sun? It's only exploration if it's done by humans.

Well, problem is they'd need a place to live - and the rent there is outrageous.

Re:Manned mission (2, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | about 4 years ago | (#33472418)

When do we land a human on the Sun?

Are you serious? The Sun's way too hot. Humans can't survive on the surface, except at night.

Re:Manned mission (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 4 years ago | (#33473182)

When do we land a human on the Sun?

Are you serious? The Sun's way too hot. Humans can't survive on the surface, except at night.

So what? Terraform at night time, get underground during the day... keep doing it until terraformation complete.

Re:Manned mission (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#33473930)

So what? Terraform at night time, get underground during the day... keep doing it until terraformation complete.

We should first investigate whether there's any nightlife on the Sun. If there is, that would rule out any work of this sort.

I got your solar wind...right here. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 4 years ago | (#33472334)

"...what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system."

The Sun: "Shoo fly, you bother me...Pffffffff"

Solar Probe: (Fawoooosh!)

NASA: "Well....Shit. There goes $250 million."

We're going to need a REALLY black ship. (3, Funny)

Shag (3737) | about 4 years ago | (#33472340)

And a depressed robot to open it.

Re:We're going to need a REALLY black ship. (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#33472400)

Be sure to equip it with a working teleport, even though it does have a perfectly serviceable door.

SOB (0, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33472444)

They should name the probe "Bitch". Then all the captions will read, "Sun of a Bitch".

Humor FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472574)

They should name the probe "Bitch". Then all the captions will read, "Sun of a Bitch".

Lame.

Re:Humor FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33477360)

come on man, worth a small chuckle

hmmmm (1)

genican1 (1150855) | about 4 years ago | (#33472666)

My only question is if the probe runs solaris?

Re:hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472862)

you suck. that was terrible.

What exactly is this mission about? (0, Offtopic)

williamyf (227051) | about 4 years ago | (#33472698)

A "the Golden Apples of the sun" type of mision?

Or a "ice missile delivery system" type of mission?

Please. Mod funny. please? (or offtopic)

Re:What exactly is this mission about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33473176)

Dude, there are some things that you do just because.

Climbing everest, walking to the pole, watching beck limbaugh dance on tv.

Gotta wonder..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33472878)

"NASA today said it had picked five experiments that will ride aboard one of its most ambitious space missions to explore the Sun. The Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft"..............

So what kinda car is it compared to? A hoopdie like an El Dorado II? Or something more contemporary like a Tata?

Or maybe a Nova, perhaps? I'd think that'd be a "no go", IMHO, but then, this IS NASA we're talking about........

Oh oh... (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | about 4 years ago | (#33472920)

Then give it a talking motorcycle.

Distance from the sun (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33473004)

For some reason both the article and the probe's homepage skips mentioning how close to the sun this probe will approach. It is based on an earlier, rejected mission that would go as close as 4 solar radii, and to make things cheaper it will go to a closest distance of 9.5 solar radii. That is the perihelion distance - the orbit will be elliptical. For comparison, Mercury's never gets closer to the sun than about 61 times times the radius of the sun.

Flying Car!?!?! (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#33473618)

The Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft

So is this the flying car that we all have been waiting for?

Where can I get one, and what does it cost?

Does it look like something out of The Jetsons?

Trajectory? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33474120)

So, does anyone know what the trajectory is? As any rocket scientist knows, a direct (minimum energy Hoffman style) trajectory that would have them skim the surface of the sun (or even get it closer than Mercury) would require a huge amount of delta-V (and a huge rocket for a little payload, we're talking Saturn V size). That, of course is why NASA's Mercury orbiter (now approaching orbital insertion) used several (3-4?) gravity assists using both Venus and Mercury).

So what is this thing going to do? Maybe the delta-V requirements won't be as extreme (I assume it will go into a highly elliptical orbit) so perhaps some gravity assists around the inner planets will suffice. Or maybe a much more ambitious(?) plan will be used, to send it out to Jupiter whose deep gravity well could cancel its orbital momentum in one fell swoop and, if used to the extreme, would send it plummeting directly into the sun. Of course they won't but it could send it in a wide variety of orbits such as over the Sun's poles. This of course was the trajectory used by Ulysses which gave us our first views "overhead" (but at a much greater distance).

Of course if they send it out to Jupiter, the spacecraft will need to be able to survive the relative cold, low power (from the illustrations it uses solar panels) and high radiation environment (presumably the sun isn't as radioactive, just hot) as well as the extremes from a close encounter with the sun. Also the trip may be longer (but these inner planet swing-bys take time as well). So my guess is, despite the additional orbital flexibility, the additional requirements would argue against it. (On the other hand, it would be easy to add a small detachable probe that, as I mentioned before, could actually impact the sun!).

Anyone know what trajectory the will be using?

P.S. You know, the fact that the precisely tracked radio transmitting probe will end up in a highly eccentric orbit around the deepest gravity well in our solar system would really make it a great additional test for Einstein's theory of general relativity. Not that it really needs additional verification but why not?

P.P.S. The technology isn't quite ready yet but this, of course, would be a very good use of a solar sail. At the much closer distances to the sun that this probe is going, even a relatively small, inefficient sail could really be useful in changing it's trajectory. (By tacking "against" the direction of orbital motion it could fall closer to the sun). Then, with it's mission over, the same sail could blow it out into interstellar space (and as it got further from the sun, could reflect some of the light onto the probe's solar panels keeping it powered. Just thinking out loud.

Irritated by Slashdot's anti-Apple bias and hostility?Don't log in (don't give them and their advertisers your info, remain an A/C).

I know this... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 4 years ago | (#33474528)

what propels the solar wind

It's the sun.

The real purpose for this mission (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | about 4 years ago | (#33474658)

What they aren't telling you is that the space probe actually contains Dracula. NASA got tired of all the vampire stories so they are putting him down.

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