Eugene Parker was born on June 10th, 1927 in Houghton, Michigan and is currently 91 years old. Parker received his Bachelors in Science Degree from Michigan State University in 1948 and then later received his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1951. In the mid-1950s, he developed a theory on Solar Wind that moved through space at supersonic speeds and predicted the Parker Spiral shape of the Sun's magnetic field in the outer solar system. His theory was rejected by the Astrophysical Journal, but the editor overruled the reviewers and published his work anyway. Parker's ideas greatly increased the understanding of the Corona, Solar Wind, and the magnetic fields of both the Sun and the Earth.
Eugene Parker is the first living person to have been named
after a NASA mission and will be alive to see it launch on August 11th on top of the Delta IV Heavy by United Launch Alliance. When asked today at a press conference held at The Institute of Chicago how he felt about being named after this solar probe, he responded "i'm greatly honored and I think it's gonna be a superb mission in the sense that it's gonna bring back some crucial data". Parker was also asked what got him interested in studying the sun, "When I was a student in High School I took the Physics course and fell in love with it," he said, "I read books about the sun and stars". He enjoys studying the sun because there's a lot of open space to learn about it. Eugene is most interested in learning how the heating fluctuates with the probe during times of high solar activity versus low activity.
As of today, the Parker Solar Probe has been mated to the top of the Delta IV Heavy rocket at Launch Complex 37 for the upcoming launch on August 11th at 3:38am EDT.