If you're going to get close to the sun for long periods of time, you have to make sure your spacecraft can take the heat. Solar Probe Plus will carry a huge shield that is eight feet in diameter and 4.5 inches think, made up of carbon-carbon carbon foam. Its solar arrays, JHUAPL said, will move around to make sure that the panels maintain the proper heat and power, retracting and extending as required. Some "heat-resistant technologies", JHUAPL added, came from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, a Mercury probe that flew by the planet three times before settling into an orbital mission that ran between 2011 and 2015. For example, the solar shield on Solar Probe Plus is similar to designs of MESSENGER's sunshade.
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Image: The Solar Probe Plus spacecraft is prepared for thermal vacuum tests to simulate the space environment. Picture taken at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL