The man who portrayed the daring and boisterous Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek is set to find his name hurtling throughout the final frontier in search of the sun, SyFyWire reports.
William Shatner – recognized for his work not only in science fiction, but also in the police drama TJ Hooker, drama-comedy Boston Legal, and early reality TV entry Rescue 911 – has been boosting a project that has finally come to fruition with the launch of the Parker Solar Probe on July 31 of this year. While tickets are now “sold out,” as the final stages of fabrication and testing take place at NASA, the launch and the seven year journey toward the center of our solar system to record vital metrics from our sun is the focus of most stargazers attention.
The tickets to participate were free, an awareness-building exercise from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and allow people from all over the world to be a part of history as the solid-state memory card bearing their name as a message spends seven years in transit before being able to conduct fly-bys in order to study the sun. The great white-yellow dwarf that provides for life on planet Earth is a source of great mystery and intrigue for scientists past and present.
The Parker Solar Probe will have multiple missions to undertake as part of its journey. Scientists will be collecting data on solar structure, magnetic and electric fields, and the streams of solar winds. To accomplish this, the probe has been fitted with the best technology available in the 21st century, including a 4.5-inch thick carbon-composite shield that serves to defend the interior instrumentation against the extreme heat, which scientists estimate could top 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, as the probe grows nearer to the sun.
Questions of particular interest to solar scientists and those in fields nearby include the mystery of why the sun’s surface, while blazing away at a temperature of about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is yet cooler than its corona and the attendant gases, which are estimated to be in the vicinity of an incomprehensible 1 million degrees, according to Alex Pevtsov of Montana State University. Leading scientists and astronomical experts may soon find out the truth of the matter, though it will be the better part of a decade before any data is transmitted back to Earth for deeper study.
The probe is named for respected heliophysicist Dr. Eugene Parker, a groundbreaking scientist in the study of the sun and the physics related to celestial bodies. He was on-hand personally to speak during a University of Chicago event announcing the plan to launch his namesake probe in May of 2017.
Shatner, now 87, remains as affable and persuasive as ever in his efforts to promote interest in and knowledge of space. Beloved across the world for his portrayal of the steely Captain Kirk and firm in his command, Shatner remains as popular in his later life as he did as a younger man on the set of Star Trek when he pitched the human interest story for the probe with NASA’s backing earlier this year:
“The first-ever spacecraft to the sun, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, will launch this year on a course to orbit through the heat of our star’s corona, where temperatures are greater than 1 million degrees. The spacecraft will also carry my name to the sun, and your name, and the names of everyone who wants to join this voyage of extreme exploration.”