BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A solar probe built by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab is sitting inside an enormous vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, undergoing tests at extreme temperatures.

There’s no room for mistakes when you send a spacecraft on the closest journey to the sun ever attempted.

The purpose of the Parker Solar Probe, according to APL’s Annette Dolbow “is to get closer to the sun than anything has ever been before.”

“We’ll go back and forth between hot and cold and we’ll stay at plateaus,” Dolbow said. “Making sure all the hardware works at hot, and making sure it all works at cold.”

The probe will orbit the sun, skimming it’s hot outer atmosphere, or corona. It will hit temperatures 250,000 degrees and up, but a special shield and cooling system should keep the spacecraft’s interior at room temperature.

If the probe passes its stress tests, it is scheduled to launch this July.

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