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EU Sending a Probe To the Sun

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the hot-science dept.

EU 160

First time accepted submitter Mindflux0 writes "The European Union is going forward with the proposed Solar Orbiter, a space probe designed to study the sun. The probe will orbit closer to the sun than any other man-made object at a sizzling 42 million km. It's planned to launch in 2017 for close to a billion euros."

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EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617856)

Somebody should send the eurocrats to the sun.

Re:EU (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617950)

They need to include Obama and all the Congresspeople on that journey.

Re:EU (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617990)

You sure they'll have the money for this after the ECB's given it all to Greece?

Re:EU (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618104)

They can borrow it from the Chinese like everyone else.

Re:EU (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618732)

They will just leave marvin there.

Re:EU (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618906)

They can borrow it from the Chinese like everyone else.

Yes, but the Chinese are wary of Greeks bearing Gilts.

Re:EU (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619172)

All the hot air added by including the politicians will surely help lift the craft out of the densest parts of Earth's atmosphere, allowing a smaller rocket. I call this a win-win.

Re:EU (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619976)

But will their hot air be enough to offset all the crap they are full of?

Re:EU (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618274)

Can they also send all of congress from the USA as well?

Honestly, it would increase the average IQ of america by 80 points if we sent all the american politicians.

Re:EU (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618424)

I used to think that the politicians in my country were stupid too, but then I realized - they are not. I think the same applies to the US as well.

The politician has managed to get to a position of power in the first place (not everybody can). He manages to use this power to fill his pocket in such a way that is not entirely illegal (but most likely immoral), or at least manages to pay off certain people to make his way legal or look the other way.

So, politicians are not stupid, they are intelligent selfish greedy bastards and they screw up the country not because of incompetence, but because it is the unintended consequence (or maybe even intended for some) of their actions that fill their pockets.

Re:EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618882)

Politicians generally aren't stupid. In the US most of Federal elected officials were at one point lawyers. Once you understand that their behavior becomes much easier to understand.

Lawyers are trained in law and ethics, specifically how to ethically serve their client. Ethically serving their client means doing EVERYTHING legally possible to further your client's position. Who are politician's clients? Their campaign donors. Shitty politician behavior explained by the 'ethics' training they get being turned into lawyers.
It also seems self evident that lawyers shouldn't be making laws. Talk about having the foxes guard the hen house.

OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (0)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617862)

PLEASE, PLEASE tell me this is a fully manned spaceprobe, manned by politicians and world leaders, to help them become better aquainted with science!

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (4, Funny)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617894)

We have told them it is safe to go to the sun as we will send them at night.

EAT IT, EU! (1, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618244)

I am orbiting the Sun!
right now.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618260)

I knew this would be in here somewhere...

so? (1)

1800maxim (702377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617896)

I'm pretty sure they're planning on flying at night.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (3, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617928)

Don't worry, they're going at... DAMMIT!

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617946)

PLEASE, PLEASE tell me this is a fully manned spaceprobe, manned by politicians and world leaders, to help them become better aquainted with science!

Yeah, lets send european politicians into the sun, followed by american politicians and of course lawyers, especially lawyers.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618366)

and of course lawyers, especially lawyers.

Just half the lawyers (since they do actually serve some useful purposes), with special emphasis on person injury lawyers that advertise on TV.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617994)

Peter Frampton said he wants to go.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618354)

Peter Frampton said he wants to go.

I think we should let him.

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619088)

If it's a fully manned Sunprobe, International Rescue would be obligated to save them. You can't get rid of politicians THAT easily!

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620026)

I demand there be room for all Intellectual Property lawyers too (except NewYorkCountyLawyer).

Re:OMG! somebody PLEASE tell me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620748)

This might be a one-way trip, but since there are discussions about one-way Mars trip, a one-way Sun trip is perfectly acceptable idea, and politically very correct one. It is for those who just could not get enough heat from that Australian chile recently reported at /. which burns a question: how much is the Sun in the Scoville scale?

2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617884)

(42 million kilometers) / the speed of light = 2.33494867 minutes

That's just around 4 times closer to the sun than the Earth is, although I guess the radiation intensity probably increases with the square of the distance or something like that?

At least they should be able to power it with solar panels...

Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (5, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618030)

At least they should be able to power it with solar panels...

Actually, powering a probe close to the sun with solar panels is a significant difficulty, since photovoltaic cells perform poorly when they get hot; high temperatures also degrade the lifetime. The European mission will be taking a lot of steps to decrease the intensity on the solar arrays. It's a much worse problem with Solar Probe Plus, which is going much closer. For SPP, designing a power system that works at distances close to the sun was the key enabling element in the mission design. We will be using concentrator solar cells, operating them off-angle, and, for the part of the orbit closest to the sun, actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618298)

Why not just power it from the suns heat... Since we're already adding a cooling system that protects against the suns heat and not the components generated heat...

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618496)

And what is going to power the cooling system?

You cannot power anything from heat, unless there is a colder place that you can heat up in the process. For example, you can use a steam engine, but you either need to condense the steam back into water (so, a cold place to do that) or bring so much water that it will be enough for the entire time the unit has to stay operational. Oh, and a boiler that can survive the heat and water pressure of being near the sun.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618604)

I don't believe the 'heat' is present in the environment 42 million miles from the sun.

The 'heat' is the solar radiation heating up what it strikes. That heat will radiate back out into space. Likewise the dark side of the space craft will be close to absolute zero. So there's a quite clear delineation of heat zones.

If the probe orbits the sun and has a long tail radiator that's always in shadow/dark it will have the necessary heat differential needed to produce power.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (5, Informative)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619074)

The 'heat' is the solar radiation heating up what it strikes. That heat will radiate back out into space. Likewise the dark side of the space craft will be close to absolute zero.

This is an imperfect understanding of heat and how it works in space. Heat is HARD to get rid of. Very, very, hard. Heat hitting the craft will radiate back into space? Not very efficiently. Radiated energy is about the least effective way to get rid of heat. Very space and mass intensive. The ISS has almost as many square meters of heat radiators as it does solar panels. And the ISS has it easy, with a planetary shadow to work with.

Why is it so hard? Because space isn't cold. The whole 'space-is-barely-above-absolute-zero' thing is technically true and yet wildly inaccurate. Yes, the total amount of energy in a given volume of space is absurdly low. But that's not because the contents are cold. It's because there is nothing there to be measured. Space is a vacuum. As in vacuum thermos. That magical container that keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.

To say that the absolute cold of space will keep things cold implies that there is some cold substance in space that the heat can be transferred to. That simply isn't the case.

The far side of the spacecraft from the sun is going to be exactly the same temperature as the near side because the natural heat conductivity will be orders of magnitude higher than any heat differential caused by radiating heat. Both sides will be baking.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619110)

That heat will radiate back out into space.

Guess what, the front will radiate back, too.

Any difference in temperature would be purely from the back not being warmed directly by the sun. But how do you efficiently stop heat from propagating through the body of the probe, especially long-term? And remember that radiation takes nowhere near as much heat as sun pumps in...

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619160)

Likewise the dark side of the space craft will be close to absolute zero. So there's a quite clear delineation of heat zones.

No, no it will not be close to absolute zero. Conduction will carry the heat from the sun-facing side of the craft to the dark side of the craft -- even if they weren't deliberately using pipes to move heat to the radiator. The craft will reach an equilibrium point that is based on the amount of heat it is absorbing, the size of the radiator, and the amount of blackbody radiation given off at a given temperature of the radiator.

At this distance from the sun, this temperature is going to be rather high.

To get close (as in 12K) to absolute zero, it took the WISE craft a significant store of solid hydrogen to use as coolant, and this was at 1 AU from the sun.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618622)

There something called a Thermocouple/Thermopile. True, you can only extract energy from a temperature difference but much of the heat is directional meaning the side of the craft facing the sun will be by far the hottest, especially true if they purposely using a shield againt the sun. Rather then solar energy, a thermocouple on one side side of the sun and the other shield away from it might be viable while being a simpler solution (other then having to angle the craft correctly all the time). Of course, not sure if it's possible depending on how much energy is able to be produce vs energy needs. Definitely won't be as much wattage as a solar panel.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619232)

And what is going to power the cooling system?

We already have heat rejection to deep space. That's the heat sink that will make this work. I imagine (being, of course, too lazy to look up the probe's design) however that they didn't do it because they needed to power the system from Earth to its arrival in this orbit. A thermal-based system would lose more than a factor of 4 in power, while operating in Earth orbit compared to its destination orbit. Solar cell panels that can be varied on how exposed they are to sunlight, could generate as much power in Earth orbit as in its destination orbit.

silicon carbide solar cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618614)

Heck, make the whole probe out of silicon carbide.

Re:silicon carbide solar cells (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618918)

I've actually made silicon carbide solar cells. They're not very efficient, though. (Bandgap is too wide).

Re:silicon carbide solar cells (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619032)

Sounds perfect for a probe so close to the sun.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619018)

actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

Isn't that, well, kind of obvious? How else would one cool anything in space? I'm rather surprised this hasn't been needed for solar cells already.

Re:Too much sunlight is as bad as too little... (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621266)

actually cooling the arrays with a pumped-fluid cooling loop to reject heat to radiators that are shaded from the sun.

Isn't that, well, kind of obvious? How else would one cool anything in space? I'm rather surprised this hasn't been needed for solar cells already.

For most applications, the small gain in efficiency from running the cells cooler is not worth the large loss in terms of cost and complexity of pumped cooling loops. For near sun applications, though, it is worth it

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618210)

Around 72% of the way to the sun to be more precise.
So it's not like it'll be skimming the surface. But as the radiation decreases with the square of the distance, it should get around 12.7 times as much sunlight as if it was orbiting out here.

42 million km is just inside Mercury's perihelion of 46 million km, by the way.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (0)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618242)

(42 million kilometers) / the speed of light = 2.33494867 minutes

That's just around 4 times closer to the sun than the Earth is...

Math. Do you Speak it? There is no such thing as 4 times closer.

It is 1/4th the distance from the sun compared to the earth.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618334)

Actually there is a such a thing as 4 x closer it's just an inaccurate natural language representation of 1/4th the distance. Not everyone uses accuracy and precision in their every day speech as their goal is to communicate general ideas now explain something with technical accuracy. Vernacular do you speak it?

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618510)

Actually there is a such a thing as 4 x closer it's just an inaccurate natural language representation of 1/4th the distance. Not everyone uses accuracy and precision in their every day speech as their goal is to communicate general ideas now explain something with technical accuracy. Vernacular do you speak it?

Well that's true except that it is perfectly accurate and precise if you simply understand the idiom. Which of course literalist wanna-be-pedants don't, as they do with so many aspects of language, and act like this means they're smart.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (1)

flargleblarg (685368) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618776)

Actually, it's accurate even if you don't understand the idiom. 4x closer means 4 times as much closeness. Closeness is 1 over the distance. So 4x closer is 4 over the distance -- or 1 over 1/4 the distance. No pedantry necessary.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619216)

Sure, but that definition of 'closeness' as 1/distance is implied by the syntax of the sentence using 'times'. If I said I was 3 times closer to something than you, that would mean I was 1/3rd as far. However if I said I was 3m closer to something than you, then in this case "closeness" is "-distance".

Now I'm sounding pedantic, when my point about bringing up pedantry is how rarely it helps when understanding natural language where there are many definitions that must be decided upon by context, not a single "correct" definition as there is with technical terms.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (1)

flargleblarg (685368) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621584)

Hmm... If "3 times closer to" means "1/3 the distance from," and "3 meters closer (nearer) to" means "3 meters less far from," then I'm having trouble seeing the ambiguity. Distance and closeness are inversely proportional. Nearness and Farness have an inverse linear relation.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (2)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618518)

Math. Do you Speak it? There is no such thing as 4 times closer.

English. Do you speak it? If you're not a native speaker, then it's understandable that you're not familiar with some of the intricacies and oddities of the language, but for fluent speakers of English, there's no trouble parsing phrases such as "twice as short" (means the same as "half as tall"), or "four times closer" ("a quarter the distance"), etc. Just invert the number when you reverse the directional (e.g. from "closer" to "further", "shorter" to "taller", etc).

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619184)

I'm not a native speaker, and it makes perfect sense. Because as far as I know, it's like that in all languages except whatever it is that mathematicians speak when they use English words.

So Nadaka is the idiot here.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618592)

Define "closeness" as 1/distance, and you're wrong.

Re:2 minutes and 20 seconds from the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618792)

Somebody just watched Pulp Fiction....

Speaking of English, you can't even use proper case. Go easy on the insults when you have such a poor grasp of the language.

It's the ESA not the EU (3, Insightful)

rpjs (126615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617892)

The European Space Agency is quite different than the European Union. It includes Canada for a start...

Re:It's the ESA not the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617954)

The space agency or the union?

Re:It's the ESA not the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618302)

Well the space agency of course. ESA has a lot of members, most of them are also EU member states. However, Canada is not and most likely never will be.

Seriously! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618106)

This has been stated SO MANY TIMES. And still the editors DON'T GET IT. Jeeeez!!!

Re:It's the ESA not the EU (2)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619080)

Canada is an "associate member". As far as I understand it, that means that ESA and the Canadian Agency cooperate. Also, the EU as a whole is a member.

Looks like... (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617912)

They finally found a place to send all that Greek debt.

hmm... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617934)

They are going to make sure to do this at night, right? It would be too hot for the probe during the day, right?

Re:hmm... (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617996)

Theyll go at night.

Re:hmm... (1)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618116)

depends on whether poland is in charge.

Not a record for long! (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617938)

But it won't be a record for long, since the Solar Probe Plus will be heading to a distance of 8.5 solar radii from the surface of the sun a year later. http://science.nasa.gov/missions/solar-probe/ [nasa.gov]

Take that Rupert! (3, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617956)

First the News of the World, and now this.

Re:Take that Rupert! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618376)

First the News of the World, and now this.

Gosh, I didn't think they had it in them to shoot Rupert Murdoch into the sun.

Re:Take that Rupert! (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621814)

First the News of the World, and now this.

Gosh, I didn't think they had it in them to shoot Rupert Murdoch into the sun.

That was the original plan, then we switched vendors and had to fire him into the Dell.

Hotter than Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617964)

They had better find a way to name this probe ASH because in the end that's what it'll be.

Re:Hotter than Hades (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618110)

They had better find a way to name this probe ASH because in the end that's what it'll be.

I hear that they are avoiding the problem of too much heat by sending it there at night... :-)

Seems like a foolish way to spend money right now (1)

metalgamer84 (1916754) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617982)

Interesting way to burn a billion euros. Someone correct me if im wrong, but isn't Europe almost as broke as the US? Why did they pick now to go study the Sun?

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618038)

Which parts of Europe? I'm sure Germany is okay for cash. Greece not so much.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618114)

Only parts of it. Europe isn't a single country.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618324)

Most americans dont know that.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618136)

Yes society should drop everything else it does to handle one problem at a time. Next up, we drop everything to cure cancer!

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618162)

Interesting way to burn a billion euros. Someone correct me if im wrong, but isn't Europe almost as broke as the US? Why did they pick now to go study the Sun?

Well you know, since we don't start wars just for fun (or putting in place a TSA-like agency), we have more money to invest in more productive things.
Such as basic science for instance. All in all, 1 billion € is cheap change on the level of the european budget.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618262)

A billion Euro over 6 or so years. Who was it that spent 20 billion American dollars on iPhones again?

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618388)

They did this some time ago. And compared to the EU dept it is only a tiny amount of money. The threw more money at every single bank lately.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618452)

You could also phrase it as follows: Interesting way to invest in your local economy. Trust me, the research alone will get people (certain academics) to move there.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618602)

You could also phrase it as follows: Interesting way to invest in your local economy. Trust me, the research alone will get people (certain academics) to move there.

Move to the sun?!?!?

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (4, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618646)

You do realize it that when you spend money it is not incinerated right?

If the EU spends 1 billion or 100 billion they do not have 1 billion less, it is just redistributed differently.

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619436)

You have it quite wrong actually.
Money represents resources (which there is a limited amount of) and work.

If you spend money on the construction of a factory, you're really using resources and human work to build that factory. Resources and work which could have been used to build something else. If the factory gives you something that you feel is worth the investment, such as cheap robots that clean homes and which anyone can afford, then you didn't waste money. If that factory gives you something that you feel wasn't worth the investment, such as black and white TVs nobody has had a use for since decades, then you wasted money.

Is learning more about the sun worth the 1 billion worth of resources and work? That's the question.
The comment you answered to is quite ignorant though. The fact that he claims this is a waste of money then immediately says he actually has no clue what we could get out of this, gives the stupidity away.

To answer the guy:
For one thing, we could learn how to develop better sources of energy (or how to use current energy sources more efficiently). The sun burns thanks to a process called Fusion, which is much, much more efficient than the nuclear energy we have today (fission). We're desperately trying to develop Fusion plants to replace Fission plants and studying the sun upclose might help us this way. Imagine the shitload of money we'll save thanks to that energy source!

We could also learn a lot more about Earth's climate and global warming. We might be able to predict future drastic changes in temperatures that are caused by solar activity. Imagine if we could know today that 10 years from now, the temperatures on Earth will drop by 5 celsius for a period of 15 years - we could start preparing for this by modifying buildings. A few years ago friends of mine considered changing the heating system in their house to something that is cheaper to run. They ended up not investing in this because, as they said "last winter wasn't so cold. If the next 10 winters are not ALL colder, we won't heat the house so much and this won't be worth the investment". If they could know how cold winter will be 10 years ahead, they would be able to make a better decision. It would save them money and it would help the climate a little bit.
As for global warming, we might finally get an answer as to how much man is responsible for it.

We will also most likely learn things we didn't expect to learn. That happens all the time in science, especially with big enterprises. For an example, look at how the LHC has unexpectedly allowed us to discover particles that can travel faster than light (ok, last I heard this needs further verification, but you get the example).
Speaking of the LHC, people raised the same "Is it not a waste of money?" concerns. The LHC was presented as something that would simply satisfy our curiosity about the origins of the universe, but according to some scientists I spoke to the LHC might help us develop cheaper and more efficient energies and it might even be the only way to develop anti-gravity engines - imagine vehicles of all sized, from a skateboard to an oil tanker, not fighting against gravity (like planes and helicopters do) but simply ignoring gravity at will (picture a helium balloon, although balloons float only because they are lighter than air) and moving (or stopping) with ease in the air! It sounds like science fiction, but it's actually a real possibility (or so I've heard).

There's so much more we could learn from studying the sun closer. A scientist would be able to provide more examples. But there are good reasons to do it and in the long run it could save us lots of money and help climate change/pollution.

Also, it might finally convince Aztecs that the Sun is not a god. And if you plant to tell me Aztecs are extinct, I have a roommate who thinks the world will end in 2012 right here to prove you wrong!

Re:Seems like a foolish way to spend money right n (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618684)

What better way to cook the books.

Chemical rocket... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618154)

Seems odd to use a chemical rocket instead of a solar-powered ion thruster, when you're going close to the sun where power is cheap anyway... Maybe it's about beating Solar Probe Plus there, so they hold the closest-to-the-sun record for a few months anyway; an ion system would be too slow and make them look like an also-ran.

Oh, and SOLO shoots first!

Re:Chemical rocket... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618378)

Ion engines are good for their thrust over time and not their instantaneous thrust power. I haven't looked at the required max thrust for this mission but it could be they went with the rocket because an ion engine isn't powerful enough for at least some part of the mission. There are other factors to consider like operating temperature of the 2 different engines. I again don't know and am to lazy to look for the numbers but throwing it out there if someone is interested in actually looking this stuff up.

A closer look (1)

janeuner (815461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618158)

I guess they can't see it from here.

you Fail It!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618166)

and abroad For own agenda - give sales and so on, may also want

ObSimpsons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618196)

European bankers and politicians on the rocket with Bart and Homer...

Sunshine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618536)

What do you see? Kaneda! WHAT DO YOU SEE!?

42 million km? (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618846)

Sounds like a Disaster Area waiting to happen.

Re:42 million km? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619044)

Oh c'mon, someone tell me they got that!

Re:42 million km? (1)

the real darkskye (723822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619058)

Only if it crashes into the sun and causes it to explode for no adequately explored reason.

They're sending it at night (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618874)

They're sending it at night to avoid heat issues.

Re:They're sending it at night (1)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618928)

Didn't see yours when Iposted mine :-/

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618894)

Hope Thunderbird 3 is on standby.

They should send it at night (1)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618916)

when the sun is turned off.

Greece's contribution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619024)

...will most likely melt

Can't carry the nuclear waste too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619072)

They are going that way anyway, might as well haul some trash to the dump.

Don't bother to send the probe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619156)

Don't bother to send the probe, I already know the result. The sun is hot.

Will this help us colonize the Sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619304)

I feel the human species, the whole planet, including poor people and people in ill health, must colonize the entire galaxy. We should also colonize the surface of the Sun so we can get off this mud ball. We should only colonize one side of the Sun, so there's enough light on Mars so I can build a bungalow there.

Didn't they try this some time ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619340)

With a Mars mission and we all saw how well that turned out...

What can we learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619414)

Temperature at that distance could be several hundred Centigrade and radiation too high. Will our electronics or optics work with any reliability for any data to be collected or brought back?

The ultimate source for a steam engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620204)

Cool, I've always wanted to see steam engines make a come back. And what better time!

Load this thing up with loads and loads of water, and start out with solar panels. When the solar panels become useless (because of the extreme heat), BAM, kick in that steam engine baby. Ah to dream.

I thnk the ESA need to watch the movie Sunshine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620380)

by director Danny Boyle.

Trips to the sun end badly.

3 Space Agencies are sending Sun probes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620622)

ESA is building Solar Orbiter for 2017, NASA is building http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Probe%2B [wikipedia.org] for 2018, and Roscosmos (Russia) is building InterhelioZond for 2018. All of them will get much closer to the Sun than Mercury. Both Solar Orbiter and InterhelioZond have a goal of seeing the Sun's poles from a 30 degree inclination. All three will bring valuable knowledge to complement the current collection of solar observers.

Here is the pariapsis for each (the apoapsis for all seem to be the orbit of Venus) (RS = solar radii)
Solar Probe+: 8.5 RS 0.04 au 5.9m km
InterhelioZond: 30.0 RS 0.14 au 20.8m km
Solar Orbiter: 60.5 RS 0.28 au 42m km

For comparison Mercury orbits 46.0m to 57.9m km from the Sun.

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