"It was a fundamental insight that forever changed the way in which we understood the sun, the heliosphere and in general interplanetary space", said Eric Isaacs, executive vice president for research, innovation and national laboratories at the University of Chicago.
It may not sound like much at first, but the spacecraft will be within 4 million miles of the sun, seven times closer than any previous mission, Fox said.
By sending the Parker Solar Probe into the corona of the sun, NASA is hoping to answer such questions such as: Why is the corona, the top layer of the sun's gaseous atmosphere (visible only during a solar eclipse), hotter than its surface?
The $1.5 billion mission will launch in 2018 and provide new data on solar activity, which could help scientists better forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.
The probe is on track to launch in August 2018 and is scheduled to last until June 2025.
"There's much, much more to learn and you can only do so much remotely from a distance", Clarke says.
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We've been to the moon, landed spacecraft on Mars and had close encounters with other planets - and Pluto, which used to be regarded a planet but is no longer.
It should also expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.
NASA will send a probe to "touch the sun" to help prepare for a "huge solar event" that could wreak havoc on Earth.
It is the first time that NASA has ever named a spacecraft after a living researcher, and NASA said it was making history by honouring Dr Parker, the American astrophysicist who first developed the theory of the solar wind.
The probe, which has been in the works since 2008, will reach the Sun's outermost atmosphere, called the corona-the Latin word for "crown", and American word for "beer".
The mission, originally named Solar Probe Plus, will now be called the Parker Solar Probe. The extraordinary undertaking will see the Parker Solar Probe fly within a scorching 4 million miles of our host star, and if successful, it would be the closest any human-made object has travelled to our inner solar system. After testing an assembly the spacecraft will arrive at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to prep for launch. I'm sure that there will be some surprises.
Normally, NASA waits to rename its missions after launch, but the space agency chose to break protocol this time since Parker's work has been so instrumental for the spacecraft's mission.
However, the surface of the sun occasionally flings giant blobs of solar particles at us in events called solar storms or coronal mass ejections, which not only trigger attractive auroras at our planet's poles, but can also temporarily disturb Earth's magnetic field, which can in turn disturb electrical systems of all kinds.