Parker Solar Probe of the NASA aerospace agency has been in space for only about two and half months, but it is already breaking records. The spacecraft approached a distance of 42.73 million kilometers to the surface of the Sun, becoming the closest probe to our star in history. Previously, this record belonged to the German-American probe “Helios 2,” which set it in April 1976. In addition, Parker broke another record, developing a maximum speed relative to the Sun — above 246,960 kilometers per hour.
At the moment, the title of the fastest spacecraft relative to the Earth belongs to the probe “Juno” – its speed is 265,000 kilometers per hour. By the end of its mission, “Parker,” worth $ 1.5 billion, will be able to break this record.
That the main task of the device is to study the solar corona. Within 7 years, it will make 24 flights of our luminary, getting closer and closer to the star. The last circle of “Parker” around the Sun is to take place in 2025. At this point, the device will be located at a distance of only 6.16 million kilometers from the surface of the Sun.
Preparation for the first flight around the Sun will begin on October 31. The device will reach the perihelion (the nearest point from the object) on November 5th.
According to Parker Solar Probe Project Manager Andy Driesman, “we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history.”
The solar probe is equipped with a special carbon composite shield that protects the apparatus itself and its scientific instruments from the direct effects of solar heat and radiation. In addition, the device has a lot of scientific tools for the study of our star on board. The probe will allow scientists to understand the structure of the Sun better, as well as its composition and activity. Due to this data, scientists want to solve two very old puzzles. Researchers are interested in why the temperature of the outer atmosphere of the Sun (corona) is much higher than its surface, as well as the cause of acceleration of charged particles of the solar wind to incredibly high speeds.