NASA to Launch Spacecraft Into the Sun's Atmosphere Next Year

The purpose is to study the outer solar atmosphere and better understand how stars like ours work

An image depicts NASA's Solar Probe Plus spacecraft approaching the sun.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory via AP

A NASA spacecraft will aim straight for the sun next year.

The space agency announced the red-hot mission Wednesday at the University of Chicago.

Scheduled to launch in summer 2018, the Solar Probe Plus will fly within 4 million miles of the sun's surface — right into the solar atmosphere. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before.

The purpose is to study the sun's outer atmosphere and better understand how stars like ours work.

The announcement came during a ceremony honoring astrophysicist Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.