NASA Parker Solar Probe breaks two records as makes closest approach to the sun
A solar probe launched by NASA has set a new record for the closest approach to the sun, coming within 15 million miles of its surface, the space firm said.
The Parker Solar Probe also reached record-breaking speeds of up to 213,200 miles per hour during the solar encounter, smashing the record for the fastest spacecraft.
It will continue to get closer to the star until it achieves its mission of “touching the sun” as it flies up to its atmosphere, according to the US space agency.
Parker Solar Probe began its first of 24 solar encounters last week and has since endured temperatures as high as 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit, NASA said.
For several days around November 5, the solar probe will be completely out of contact with earth because of interference from the sun’s overwhelming radio emissions.
Parker Solar Probe, which has reached about one-sixth of the distance from the earth to the sun, is expected to get within 3.8 million miles of it by 2024, the space agency said.
On its website, NASA said it will be several weeks after the end of the solar encounter before the probe begins transmitting the scientific data acquired back to Earth.
The probe was launched as part of NASA’s $1.5 billion mission to “touch the sun” and provide astrologists with some answers to some of the sun’s biggest mysteries.
NASA said on its website: “These observations, gathered closer to the sun than ever before, will help scientists begin to answer outstanding questions about the sun’s fundamental physics.”
These questions include how particles and solar material are accelerated out into space at such high speeds and why the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than the surface below.
Operators will not know if anything went wrong with the solar probe’s flyby until later this week, although it is expected to easily survive its record-breaking mission.