NASA spacecraft will aim straight for sun next year

This image made available by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 depicts NASA's Solar Probe Plus spacecraft approaching the sun. On Wednesday, NASA announced it will launch the probe in summer 2018 to explore the solar atmosphere. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft will aim straight for the sun next year.

This image made available by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 depicts NASA’s Solar Probe Plus spacecraft approaching the sun. On Wednesday, NASA announced it will launch the probe in summer 2018 to explore the solar atmosphere. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory via AP)

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.

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