|An artist's rendering of the newly named Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun.|
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
It's a mission that's been in the works for nearly 60 years. NASA says it will launch a spacecraft in 2018 to "touch the sun," sending it closer to the star's surface than ever before.
The spacecraft is small – its instruments would fit into a refrigerator — but it's built to withstand temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, all the while maintaining room temperature inside the probe.
"Even though the sun is so close to us, there's actually a lot about it we don't understand," says heat shield lead engineer Betsy Congdon from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
Scientists are hoping the data gathered might solve some of the big mysteries about the sun.
NPR: NASA Plans To Launch A Probe Next Year To 'Touch The Sun'
Rae Allen Bichell, Merrit Kennedy