The Thermal Protection System, or TPS, is an essential technology that enables Parker Solar Probe to get so close to the Sun. The TPS is a composite structure made of top and bottom carbon fiber facesheets with 4.5 inches of carbon-carbon foam between them. Together, they form the 8-foot diameter heat shield on the top of the spacecraft.
The outer Sun facing facesheet is sprayed with a special bright white plasma optical coating.
The TPS is light - only 160 pounds – yet very effective at protecting the spacecraft and scientific instruments from the Sun.
During closes approach the Sun-facing side of the TPS will reach temperatures of about 2,500°F, while the spacecraft and majority of the instruments will only experience temperatures around 85°F.
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