For more than 400 years, astronomers have studied the sun from afar. Now NASA has decided to go there. 'We are going to visit a living, breathing star for the first time,' says program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters. 'This is an unexplored region of the solar system and the possibilities for discovery are off the charts.'
Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab (APL) will design and build the spacecraft for NASA. APL already has experience sending probes toward the sun. APL's MESSENGER spacecraft completed its first flyby of the planet Mercury in January 2008 and many of the same heat-resistant technologies will fortify Solar Probe+.