NASA's Parker Solar Probe Mission to the Sun in Pictures

NASA's Parker Solar Probe

Steve Gribben/NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

NASA's Parker Solar Probe is a $1.5 billion mission to explore the sun like never before. Launching in August 2018, the mission will send a hardy spacecraft to "touch" the sun by flying through the star's super-hot outer atmosphere: the corona. See photos from the ambitious NASA mission here.

Leaving Earth for the Sun

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Parker Solar Probe began a 7-year mission with its successful launch on Aug. 12, 2018. It will reach the sun in November 2018 following several flybys of Venus, the first of which is on Oct. 2.

Streaking Through

NASA/Bill Ingalls

This long-exposure view of NASA's Parker Solar Probe launch shows the spacecraft and its Delta IV Heavy rocket streaking through a think cloud layer during the ascent into space.


NASA/Bill Ingalls

The spectacular launch of the Parker Solar Probe is reflected in water around its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch site in this stunning view by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls.

Eugene Parker Watches Parker Solar Probe Launch

NASA/Glenn Benson

Solar scientist Eugene Parker watches as NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for him, launches into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere, the super-hot corona.

Streaking to the Sun

United Launch Alliance

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe streaks into space in this long-exposure view of the launch from the United Launch Allianace.

A First

Ed Whitman/NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Aboard NASA's Parker Solar Probe a plaque dedicates the craft to Eugene Parker, the first living person to have a NASA mission named after him. Parker originally theorized the existence of the solar wind. The plaque includes a memory card containing images of the scientist, his groundbreaking 1958 scientific paper as well as 1,137,202 names of people submitted by the public.

Meet Eugene Parker

NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker and United Launch Alliance President Tory Bruno in front of the rocket that will carry the Parker Solar Probe into space.

The Full Tour

NASA/Kennedy Space Center/Sandy Hillman Communications

Parker also received a tour of Kennedy Space Center.

The Fastest Mission Ever

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

On its closest approach to the sun near the end of the mission, the Parker Solar Probe will become the fastest spacecraft ever.

Prepping for Space

Ed Whitman/NASA

Inside the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber, the Parker Solar Probe experiences the harsh conditions awaiting the craft after launch. The chamber simulates near-vacuum conditions and severe hot and cold temps.

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