Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

NASA Parker Solar Probe will Break the History Record

NASA Parker Solar Probe will Break the History Record

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has broken the world record for the closest approach to the sun ever achieved by a man-made spacecraft - and it's not stopping yet.

"The Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter on October 31, continuing to fly closer and closer to the Sun's surface until it reaches its first perihelion - the point closest to the Sun - at about 10:28 p.m. EST on November 5", NASA said in a statement.

The spacecraft has beaten the previous record set by the German-American Helios 2 that made its approach in April 1976.

As the mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 6.12 million km from the solar surface expected in 2024, it said.

"It's only been 78 days since the launch of Parker, but we're getting our star closer than any other spacecraft in history, said project Manager Andy Driesman of the applied physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University".

On October 29, 2018, over 42 years later, NASA's new Parker Solar Probe just broke both of those long-standing records!

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An artist's sketch of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the sun. Already next week you will fly to the calculations for the first time by the corona, the outer atmosphere of the sun.

Back in early 1976, the United States and Germany launched a joint mission, named Helios 2, to study the Sun.

Scientists hope the probe will solve some of the sun's mysteries, such as why the corona is hotter than the surface of the sun itself.

As of 10:54 p.m. EDT on the 29th, it was travelling faster than 246,960 km/h (153,454 mph), relative to the Sun (heliocentric speed).

Parker Solar Probe employs a host of autonomous systems to keep the spacecraft safe without guidance from Earth - including automatic retraction of the solar panels to regulate their temperature, attitude control using solar limb sensors that ensures all of the instruments remain in the heat shield's shadow, and a sophisticated guidance and control system that keeps the spacecraft pointed correctly. It is a few million miles away from the centre of the Solar System. It'll eventually travel within four million miles of the star, where it'll face "brutal heat and radiation conditions while providing humanity with unprecedentedly close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades", according to NASA. 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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