Send your name to the Sun aboard the Parker Solar Probe

Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the Sun

Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the Sun

The names will be placed on a microchip aboard NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching this summer.

The probe will fly through the Sun's atmosphere and you can go along for the ride.

The spacecraft is expected to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on July 31. The probe will escalate to the velocity of 430,000 miles an hour when approaching the Sun.

The last time a spacecraft came close to the star's surface was in 1976, when Helios 2 achieved perihelion - point of the orbit at which it was closest to the Sun - at 27 million miles. Its heat shield will be over four inches thick in order to protect it from the Sun's intense heat. Despite that intense heat, the instruments housed within the probe will remain at roughly "room temperature" according to NASA.

The field of heliophysics - which studies how the sun affects space and the space environment of planets - is vital to understanding the life-sustaining star. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, estimates that a sudden massive solar event could cause up to two trillion dollars of damage in the United States alone, and render the country's east coast without power for an entire year! The current mission timeline for the probe stretches to 2025, but could be given additional extended missions depending on how things pan out.

In May 2017, NASA renamed the spacecraft from the Solar Probe Plus to the Parker Solar Probe in honour of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. In addition to the microchip, the probe will also carry a copy of his 1958 paper, along with the researcher's photos.

Simply enter your name and email on NASA's sign-up page and submit your request.

Ready to become part of what project scientist Nicola Fox, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Baltimore, calls, "the fastest, hottest - and coolest - mission under the sun?"

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