NASA’s probe ‘touches’ the sun for the first time

This image provided by NASA shows an artist drawing the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, NASA announced that the spacecraft passed through the sun’s unexplored atmosphere known as the corona in April, and will continue to move closer to the sun. and dive deeper into the corona. (Steve Gribben / Johns Hopkins APL / NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A NASA The spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the sun’s unexplored atmosphere known as the corona.

The scientists announced the news Tuesday during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Parker Solar Probe actually flew past the corona in April during the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the sun. Scientists say it will take several months to get the data back and then several more months to confirm.

“It’s really exciting,” said project scientist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University.

Launched in 2018, Parker was 8 million miles (13 million km) from the center of the sun when it first crossed the jagged, uneven boundary between the solar atmosphere and the outgoing solar wind. According to the scientists, the spacecraft has dived into and out of the corona at least three times, each time with a smooth transition.

Justin Kasper of the University of Michigan told reporters: “The first and most impressive time we were down there was about five o’clock… Now you might think five o’clock, that’s no big deal.” But he noted that Parker was traveling so fast it covered a vast distance in that time, ripping apart at more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) per second.

According to Raouafi, the halo looks dustier than expected. Future spacewalks, he said, will help scientists better understand the origin of the solar wind and how it is heated and accelerated out into space. Because the sun lacks a solid surface, the halo is where the activity takes place; Exploring this region of magnetic strength up close could help scientists better understand solar flares that could interfere with life here on Earth.

Preliminary data suggest that Parker also dived into the solar eclipse during its ninth close approach in August, but scientists say more analysis is needed. It made its 10th close approach last month.

Parker will continue to move closer to the sun and deeper into the corona until its final orbit in 2025.

The latest findings are also published by American Physical Society. NASA’s probe ‘touches’ the sun for the first time


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