NASA’s Parker Solar Probe reaches closest to the sun

James Marshall
November 3, 2018

On Monday, NASA announced that the Parker Solar Probe broke the record for becoming the first man-made object to make its nearest approach to the sun.

Parker on Monday surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles (43 million kilometres) set by Helios-2 back in 1976.

Parker will make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometres).

Parker Solar Probe from NASA has broken a decade-long record within 78 days from the launch. It broke the record set by the Helios 2 probe in 1976. "It's a proud moment for the team", said Andy Driesman, project manager for the mission at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

The Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter today, continuing to fly closer and closer to the sun's surface until it reaches its first perihelion-the name for the point where it is closest to the sun-at approximately 10:28 p.m. on November 5, at a distance of about 15 million miles from the sun.

Since its launch on August 12 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, the probe has passed Venus and is heading closer to the Sun. To calculate the speed and distance of the Parker Solar Probe, the space agency utilizes its Deep Space Network, or DSN.

At that speed, it will break all speed records, in all of the solar system, even surpassing NASA Juno's speed of 265,000 km/h, as it made its closest pass around Jupiter, in July of 2016. Parker conceived the idea of solar wind phenomena, according to NASA.

That's a speed that totally blows the Helios 2 probe out of the water, but the Parker spacecraft is really just getting started. Wayne has a flair for gathering data and information through extensive research efforts and has a strong set of skills to cover nearly any domain easily and produce reports that are easy to understand and aid in making well-informed decisions.

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. By learning more about the Sun, we will have a better understanding of how it affects Earth and other planets, and possibly improve our space weather forecasting.

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