New Delhi: NASA is inviting the public to go on a trip of their lifetime! Well, you can't go physically, but your name certainly can.
The American space agency has invited people around the world to submit their names to be sent on its historic Parker Solar Probe mission – a planned robotic spacecraft to probe the outer corona of the Sun – scheduled for launch in the summer of 2018.
The names will be placed on a microchip that will travel aboard the spacecraft through the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions.
"This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades," Zurbuchen added.
NASA renamed the Solar Probe Plus to Parker Solar Probe in May 2017 to honour astrophysicist Eugene Parker.
The US space agency on Tuesday said it would accept submissions until April 27, 2018.
The spacecraft – about the size of a small car – will approach to within 8.5 solar radii (5.9 million kilometers or 3.67 million miles) to the 'surface' (photosphere) of the Sun.
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
The mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can spread out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds, NASA said.
The spacecraft speed is so fast, at its closest approach it will be going at approximately 430,000 mph.
That's fast enough to get from Washington, DC, to Tokyo in under a minute, NASA said.
"Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest – and, to me, coolest – mission under the Sun," said project scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, US.
"This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we've not been able to understand," she added.