It shines our sky day by day, so the sun feels familiar to us. But there is much we still…
It shines our sky day by day, so the sun feels familiar to us. But there is much we still do not know about. Therefore, NASA launched its Parker Solar Probe – to learn more about how the sun works. This week, the spacecraft broke two entries: It flew closer to the sun than any other artificial object and moved faster than any other artificial object, according to a press release from NASA.
The probe launched in August came within 26.55 million miles of the sun on October 29th at over 153,445 miles per hour. It broke the previous record that was made by the German-American Helios 2 probe in 1
Over the next seven years, Parker Solar Probe will pave the sun, take pictures and measurements of the sun’s corona-outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere and solar winds to help researchers better understand “space weather” that affects the Earth.
Engineers have done very careful work in designing a spacecraft that can withstand the prohibitive environment and speed required for this mission. The probe is exposed to destructive heat around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and radiation, as it does its solar observations, so NASA engineers have equipped it with a state-of-the-art shield. Just 8 meters in diameter and 4.5 inches thick, the small screen is remarkably effective, so that the probe is kept in a mild 85 degree fahrenheit.
This was the probe’s first approach to the sun (it will do 24 in the next few years). Researchers expect to receive data from this first passport in a few weeks – the probe needs to move from the sun to contact it.
As its mission continues, the probe is expected to spread its own speed and solar usage record: in 2024 it was released to reach 3.83 million miles from the sun at a speed of approximately 430,000 miles per hour.