January 29, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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History rewritten in space: the Parker Solar Probe entered the heliosphere for the first time

A probe in the upper atmosphere – the corona – examined particles and magnetic fields. “Contacting the Sun from the Parker Solar Probe is an amazing moment for solar energy science and a truly amazing achievement.” said Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). According to him, this achievement will allow scientists to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of the Sun and its impact on the solar system. It will also give them more knowledge about the sun and other stars in the universe.

According to NASA, the probe flew through the sun’s corona for several hours. This spacecraft weighs 635 kilograms and is equipped with instruments to check magnetic fields, plasma and solar particles, as well as cameras to record the corona and the solar wind. The 11cm high carbon fiber heat shield allows it to withstand temperatures of around 1370°C, so it won’t burn when you’re near the sun.

The probe launched from Earth in 2018.

The Parker Solar Probe was launched from Earth in August 2018, when it was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by the Delta-IV launch vehicle. The mission lasts about seven years and its main tasks are to investigate the causes of the high temperature of the solar corona and the mechanisms of the solar wind. The probe’s next trip through the sun’s corona is scheduled to begin in January next year.

Unlike Earth, the Sun does not have a solid surface, NASA explains. However, its atmosphere is very hectic, and is made up of solar material that is attracted to the Sun by gravitational and magnetic forces. However, an increase in temperature and pressure pushes this material away from the Sun to the point where gravitational and magnetic forces can no longer hold it. This place marks the end of the sun’s atmosphere and the beginning of the so-called solar wind.

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