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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Shatters Records: The Closest & Fastest Sun Flyby Ever

On September 27, 2023, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe made its 17th close approach to the Sun, breaking its own record by coming within 4.51 million miles of the solar surface. Assisted by a gravity-aided flyby of Venus, the probe achieved a speed of 394,736 mph, marking another record. Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Brian Monroe

NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA’s Parker Solar Probe broke its own record by approaching within 4.51 million miles of the Sun on September 27, 2023, also achieving a record speed during its approach.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its 17th close approach to the Sun on September 27, 2023, breaking its own distance record by skimming just 4.51 million miles (7.26 million kilometers) from the solar surface.

Set up by a gravity-assist flyby of VenusVenus, the second planet from the sun, is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the moon, it is the second-brightest natural object in the night sky. Its rotation (243 Earth days) takes longer than its orbit of the Sun (224.7 Earth days). It is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar composition, size, mass, and proximity to the Sun. It has no natural satellites.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Venus on August 21, the close approach (known as perihelion) occurred at 7:28 p.m. EDTEDT is an abbreviation for Eastern Daylight Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing daylight saving time (spring/summer). It is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>EDT, with Parker Solar Probe moving 394,736 miles per hour (635,266 kilometers per hour) around the Sun – another record. The milestone also marked the midway point in the mission’s 17th solar encounter, which began September 22 and continues through October 3.

Parker Solar Probe Orbit 17

Parker Solar Probe’s 17th orbit included a perihelion that brought the spacecraft within 4.51 million miles of the Sun. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

The spacecraft entered the encounter in good health, with all systems operating normally. Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to check back in with mission operators at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland – where the spacecraft was also designed and built – by sending a stream of telemetry (status data) on October 1.

The spacecraft will transmit science data from the encounter – largely covering the properties, structure, and behavior of the solar wind as it launches off the Sun – back to Earth from October 4 – 19.

Parker Solar Probe

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft flying through the Sun’s corona to trace how energy and heat move through the star’s atmosphere. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Launched in 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on an unparalleled journey to study the Sun’s outer atmosphere. Designed to brave extreme heat and radiation, the probe will come within 3.83 million miles of the Sun’s surface, closer than any previous spacecraft.

Over seven years and 24 orbits, with the aid of Venus for gravitational assists, the probe will examine the Sun’s corona, the solar wind, and solar energetic particles. Its findings aim to enhance our understanding of solar phenomena and their effects on Earth.

Source: SciTechDaily