November 19, 2023

How Long Would It Take to Get to the Sun?

If you could travel at the speed of light, it would take just over 8 minutes and 20 seconds for a photon to get from the sun to Earth. However, humans have not yet reached this speed with current technology and a trip to the sun would be extremely long. The Sun’s immense distance and its strong gravitational pull make it a difficult destination for spacecraft to reach.

The Sun is an incredibly massive ball of boiling plasma. Its surface temperature is a stifling 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit (5,726 Celsius) and its corona is an even hotter layer of blistering plasma that extends far out into space. It would be fatal to any spacecraft or human that came close enough to touch it.

Spacecraft that have reached the Sun’s corona have done so by utilizing a sequence of gravity assists from Jupiter. These assistive maneuvers allow the probe to travel closer to the Sun than is possible with existing propulsion systems.

However, it is still too dangerous to land on the Sun itself. The extreme heat would instantly vaporize any spacecraft that came within its reach. Even a photon of sunlight can be lethal for a few nanoseconds, so the Sun is not a place that you want to be unless you have super-fast spacecraft. And if you do have super-fast spacecraft, the journey is not over when you reach the Sun — it will continue for many more years as your craft continues to orbit the behemoth star.


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