NASA’s sun-grazing spacecraft is making its ninth daring dive previous our neighborhood star in a unbroken quest to puzzle out secrets and techniques of how the sun works.
Parker Solar Probe was closest to the solar throughout its newest flyby on Monday (Aug. 9) at 3:10 p.m. EDT (1910 GMT), when the spacecraft was about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million kilometers) away from the solar’s floor. At the moment, the probe was touring at about 330,000 mph (532,000 kph). The spacecraft is specializing in understanding the mechanism by which the solar’s environment will get so scorching — hundreds of levels hotter than the solar’s floor — and the origins of the solar wind, a continuing flood of charged particles streaming throughout the photo voltaic system.
Because the spacecraft flies ever nearer to the solar, it’s higher poised to crack these mysteries. “We’re entering into the essential part of the Parker mission and we’re centered on fairly a number of issues throughout this encounter,” Nour E. Raouafi, Parker Photo voltaic Probe mission scientist at Johns Hopkins College’s Utilized Physics Laboratory, mentioned in a NASA statement.
“We anticipate the spacecraft to be flying by means of the acceleration zone of the perpetual movement of charged particles that make up the photo voltaic wind,” Raouafi added. “Photo voltaic exercise can also be selecting up, which is promising for learning larger-scale photo voltaic wind constructions, like coronal mass ejections, and the energetic particles related to them.”
Throughout Monday’s flyby, the spacecraft matched its current information — that are additionally humanity’s information total — for the closest strategy to the solar and fastest-moving object of a spacecraft. Nonetheless, Parker Photo voltaic Probe will quickly resume its spate of breaking each information.
In October, the mission will fly previous Venus for the fifth time, utilizing the planet’s gravity to regulate its trajectory by means of area and sneak nonetheless nearer to the solar. After this yr’s maneuver, two extra Venus flybys stay on the spacecraft’s agenda earlier than the tip of its present deliberate mission, which can are available 2025. By then, the spacecraft will likely be flying simply 3.8 million miles (6.1 million kilometers) from the floor of the solar.
Though the workforce behind Parker Photo voltaic Probe has some expectations for what in the present day’s observations will present, it is nonetheless potential the scientists will hit upon yet one more photo voltaic shock.
“You by no means know what else you will discover exploring this near the solar,” Raouafi mentioned, “and that is all the time thrilling.”
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