Parker Solar probe, the closest approach to the sun, made the record

03 November, 2018, 02:35 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Enlarge Image This illustration shows the probe nearing the sun.                  NASA  Johns Hopkins APL  Steve Gribben

It was only yesterday that NASA announced its do-it-all star-studying machine has gotten closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it, and now the probe has broken another record.

And the probe named for Parker - first launched in August 2018 - is collecting data on solar activity in order to help scientists predict space-weather events that will impact humans. The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun's surface on October 29 at about 1:04 p.m. EDT, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team. The old record was held by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft, which achieved the feat in April 1976.

"It's been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history", Andy Driesman, project manager of the mission, said in a statement.

Parker Solar Probe was also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun on October 29 at about 10:54 p.m. EDT. Its closest approach should bring it within 3.83 million miles of the star, which is why the spacecraft had to be outfitted with such extraordinary protection technology.

It is assumed that the probe Parker get seven times closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft previously going person.

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That's a speed that totally blows the Helios 2 probe out of the water, but the Parker spacecraft is really just getting started. Recently, astronomers have revealed the first photo of the Sun from a space probe.

"He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon", according to a NASA entry on Parker. If Parker Solar Probe can do this, this could be the biggest achievement of science in the world.

The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft's precise speed and position using NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN.

The spacecraft is able to fly so close to the sun because it has a special carbon-composite shield protecting itself and its instruments from intense heat and radiation. These observations will add key knowledge to our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other planets.

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