In Depth

Nasa wants to send your name to the Sun

Star Trek’s William Shatner urges fans to join US space agency’s ‘voyage of extreme exploration’

Nasa is on course to launch the first spacecraft to the Sun’s atmosphere in the summer - and it wants to include a list of space fans’ names on the star-bound vessel. 

The US-based agency is teaming up with Star Trek icon William Shatner to urge members of the public to sign up to have their names stored on a microchip that will stowed aboard the Parker Solar Probe. 

In a video posted by Nasa on Twitter, Shatner explains that the probe, due to launch on 31 July, will “orbit through the heat of our star’s corona, where temperatures are greater than one million degrees”.

“The spacecraft will carry my name to the sun, and your name, and the names of everyone who wants to join this voyage of extreme exploration,” Shatner continues.

If all goes according to plan, the probe will perform 24 “close fly-bys” over the next seven years, at times getting within 3.9 million miles of the Sun’s surface, says Space.com

Although that distance may sound vast, it is seven times closer to the star than any other spacecraft has gone, according to the astronomy news website. 

The Daily Star reports that the Parker Solar Probe is “about the size of a small car” and will be protected by a 4.5in-thick “carbon-composite shield” that can withstand temperatures of almost 1,400C.

The probe will be used to study the Sun’s magnetic fields and to capture video footage of solar winds. 

Fans who want to send their name to the Sun can sign up here, with applications accepted until 27 April.

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