Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

NASA Says Parker Solar Probe 'Alive' After Being Closest Ever to Sun

Members of the Parker Solar Probe mission team celebrate on Nov. 7 2018 after receiving a beacon indicating the spacecraft is in good health following its first perihelion NASA's Sun-Kissing Solar Probe Survives 1st Flyby of Our Star
Cary Marshall | 10 November, 2018, 09:59

What just happened? The Parker Solar Probe seems to be in good shape after a close approach to the sun.

"Parker Solar Probe was created to take care of itself and its precious payload during this close approach, with no control from us on Earth - and now we know it succeeded", said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

The Parker Solar Probe is a spacecraft created to give humans an unprecedented observation of the Sun.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington said, "Parker Solar Probe was created to take care of itself and its precious payload during this close approach, with no control from us on Earth - and now we know it succeeded". The Helios 2 probe set the previous record by passing the gaseous globe at a distance of 26.55 million miles in 1976.

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The most close approach to the Sun is planned for mid-December 2024, when Parker will be at a distance of about 9-10 solar radii (about six million km) from the star.

How did the Parker Solar Probe's journey of 90 million miles begin?

According to NASA, it received data back from the spacecraft indicating an "A" status, which is the best of four status signals. If the spacecraft had experienced any issues from its approach, says NASA, it was able to correct them without human intervention. To protect Parker and its sensitive instruments from the sun's intense heat, a revolutionary heat shield is attached to the spacecraft.

Parker Solar Probe began its first solar encounter on October 31 and drew closer and closer to the Sun's surface until it reached its first perihelion or the point closest to the Sun on November 5. This temperature will climb up to 1,371 degrees Celsius as the spacecraft makes closer approaches to the Sun. "Now, we have realized humanity's first close visit to our star, which will have implications not just here on Earth, but for a deeper understanding of our universe", said Thomas Zurbuchen from the NASA's Science Mission Directorate. During its 24 trips around the sun, the probe will continually break this record as its orbit decays, and it passes closer and closer.

The first phase of convergence will end on 11 November and a few weeks later, the probe will transmit to Earth science data, reports newsone with reference to the Inverse.

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