In March 2018, the public were invited to send their names to the Sun aboard humanity’s first mission to “touch” a star. And the probe is all set to be aboard in a launch window between August 11 and August 23.
In approximately 7 weeks period of allowed submission, total of 1,137,202 names were submitted and confirmed by NASA.
Users who submitted their names successfully, got acknowledgement mail containing certificate number and link to download certificate which was an electronically generated “VIP PASS” to Sun.
The certificate content included a message as:
“Thank you for joining the first mission to touch the Sun! A memory card containing your name will be included on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft. Come with us as we plunge through the Sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions-and ultimately providing humanity with the first-ever close-up view of a star.”
A memory card containing the names was installed on the spacecraft on May 18, 2018. This memory card also carries photos of Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and a copy of his groundbreaking 1958 scientific paper.
The card was mounted on a plaque bearing a dedication to and a quote from the mission’s namesake, heliophysicist Eugene Parker, who first theorized the existence of the solar wind.
Nicola Fox, project scientist for Parker Solar Probe said, “It’s fitting that as the mission undertakes one of the most extreme journeys of exploration ever tackled by a human-made object, the spacecraft will also carry along the names of so many people who are cheering it on its way.”
The mission has been named after University of Chicago Prof. Emeritus Eugene Parker, the first living person to have a spacecraft named after him and is now preparing at the age of 91 to become the first person to see his namesake mission skyrocket into space.
Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer about the physics of stars.
In addition to a chip containing submitted names, the plaque installed on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft also contains a dedication to and quote from Eugene Parker, the mission’s namesake. It reads: “The Parker Solar Probe mission is dedicated to Dr. Eugene N. Parker whose profound contributions have revolutionized our understanding of the Sun and solar wind. ‘Let’s see what lies ahead’ Gene Parker, July 2017”.
This plaque having memory card is mounted below Parker Solar Probe’s high-gain antenna, which the spacecraft will use to transmit data back to Earth.
The Solar Parker Probe is to be launched between August 11, 2018 and August 23, 2018 and will get closer to region near Sun where no spacecraft has gone before.