In 1958 a scientist name Eugene N. Parker believed in the existence of what he called solar wind, as a 31 year old professor at the University of Chicago , he was almost completely alone in his belief.
This was at a time when what we knew about our solar system was information gleaned from what we could see from earth. Kenneth Chang of the New York Times quotes Dr. Parker as saying,
“The prevailing view among some people was that space was absolutely clean, nothing in it, total vacuum.”
"Four years later, Dr. Parker was vindicated when Mariner 2, a NASA spacecraft en route to Venus, measured energetic particles streaming through interplanetary space — exactly what Dr. Parker had predicted."
On Sunday, August 12, 2018 Nasa launched the Parker Solar Probe, honoring Eugene N. Parker, now 91 years old, the only living person to have a NASA mission carry their name.
Dr. Parker has said, “All I can say is, ‘Wow, here we go.’ We’re in for some learning over the next few years"
From the Associated Press: "Protected by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wonders, the spacecraft will zip past Venus in October. That will set up the first solar encounter in November. Altogether, the Parker probe will make 24 close approaches to the sun on the seven-year, $1.5 billion undertaking."
In it approaches to the sun the Parker probe will break all kinds of records, getting 7 times closer than any previous spacecraft. "On its 22nd, 23rd and 24th orbits of the sun in 2024 and 2025, it will be even deeper into the corona and be traveling at a record-breaking 430,000 mph (690,000 kilometers per hour).
Nothing from Planet Earth has ever hit that kind of speed."
Project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University said,
“We’ve had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams, It’s incredible to be standing here today.”
Congratulations to Dr. Parker and NASA and the whole team we can't wait to see what we can learn from a Solar Probe named for a 91-year-old scientist who had the courage of his convictions!