Nasa is preparing to launch a $1.5 billion spacecraft designed to “touch” the sun on August 11, which will help scientists learn more about the scorching atmosphere of our favourite star, known as the corona. The Parker Solar Probe, named after the 91-year-old pioneering solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will come within 6.16 million km of the sun in the next few years, the closest a spacecraft has ever gotten to the Sun. This is the first time Nasa has named a mission after a living individual. The unmanned probe, over five decades in the making, will last nearly seven years and pass through the corona 24 times. With each orbit it will push closer and closer to the sun, ultimately circling the star at a distance of less than 10 radii.