WATCH: NASA successfully launches Parker Solar Probe

The mission will be the first to fly directly through the Sun's corona

WATCH: NASA successfully launches Parker Solar Probe

The Parker Solar Probe lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida | Image via @nasahqphoto on Twitter

The US space agency NASA has launched a probe that will get closer to the Sun than ever before.

The Parker Solar Probe mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday morning, after a delay on Saturday.

The mission will be the first to fly directly through the Sun's corona - the hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation in the Sun's atmosphere.

Temperatures in the corona - the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere - spike upwards of one million degrees Celsius.

While just 1,000 miles below, the underlying surface simmers at a balmy 5,000 degrees.

The spacecraft and its instruments will be protected from the heat by a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield.

This will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 1,377 degrees Celsius. 

This illustration shows the NASA rocket above the atmosphere | Image: YouTube/NASA

It will gather data that could help answer questions about solar physics that have puzzled scientists for decades.

Information will also be gathered about fundamental processes near the Sun that could help improve the understanding of how our solar system’s star changes the space environment.

The probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun.

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun | Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

The spacecraft will fly through the Sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.8 million miles to the star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.