NASA’s Parker probe continues to break records. Last November it won the title of being the fastest human-made object in the world. Now it has become the first spaceship in history to “touch” the Sun by successfully flying through its upper atmosphere, called the corona.
“Just as the landing on the Moon allowed scientists to understand how it formed, touching the very matter that the Sun is made of will help scientists discover critical information about our closest star and its influence on the solar system, “says NASA in a Press release.
A five-hour walk through the atmosphere of the Sun
In the five hours that the Parker probe remained in the Sun’s corona took particle samples and analyzed magnetic fields, but there is still more. The spacecraft will continue to approach the surface of our solar system’s central star for further analysis and new discoveries.
Part of their mission was to find out how and where the zig-zag-shaped solar winds that abound near the Sun form and their retreats, which last from a few seconds to several minutes. The probe has passed close enough to the star to identify that these originate from its surface.
This type of finding can help improve the calculations used to forecast solar storms. It can also become a vital element for researchers seeking to solve the mystery of why the corona is heated to millions of degrees more than the lower solar surface.
“My instinct is that, as we get on the mission and get closer and closer to the Sun, we will learn more about how the magnetic funnels are connected to the curves,” says Stuart Bale, a professor at the University of California. the NASA statement.
A journey of years to explore the Sun
The “Parker Solar Probe” project, with a budgeted cost of 1,500 million dollars, was announced in 2009. Its main objective is explore in detail the behavior of solar winds.
The spacecraft was built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Launched into space on August 12, 2018.
To fulfill its mission, the Parker probe will make a total of 21 approaches to the Sun in its seven years of life. It will orbit 3.9 million miles from the surface of the astro in 2024, that is, it will be located closer than Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun.
More information | Universidad Johns Hopkins