The probe will use Venus' gravity to slow itself down as it makes its close approaches with the sun. Notably, the Parker Solar Probe is also the first NASA spacecraft to be named after a living person.
Scientists have had to take great care to make sure that the Parker Solar Probe doesn't burn up in the process of conducting its important science.
Image: The spacecraft can withstand enormous heat.
The $1.5-billion, car-sized spacecraft is created to provide a close look at the sun's atmosphere - what astronomers call the corona - to answer enduring questions about this ultra-hot region of our nearest star."We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", project scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, said in a written statement. Ultimately, it will find itself within the outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere, an area known as the corona.
"We'll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before - within the corona of a star", project scientist Nicky Fox said in a statement.
Scientists expect the $1.5 billion mission to shed light not only on our own dynamic sun, but the billions of other yellow dwarf stars - and other types of stars - out there in the Milky Way and beyond.
"As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean".
Parker, now retired from the University of Chicago, spent his career trying to understand the sun and the ways it affects the solar system. It's the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after someone who's still alive.
United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy rocket is providing the muscle.
Also on board: more than 1 million names of space fans submitted to NASA this past spring.
As NASA explains, the probe's first challenge will be to cancel out the speed at which the earth is moving in relation to the sun.
The spacecraft holds photos of Parker as well as a copy of his 1958 research paper on what he termed solar wind.
You know something exciting is just around the bend, but where you're sitting you can't see what that is. Its closest approach will be in 2024.
On Saturday, the space agency's Parker Solar Probe is expected to launch to orbit, beginning its long and winding journey that will eventually allow humanity to touch our nearest star for the first time.