NASA's Sun-Kissing Solar Probe Survives 1st Flyby of Our Star

Postado Novembro 10, 2018

"Parker Solar Probe was created to take care of itself and its precious payload during this close approach, with no control from us on Earth - and now we know it succeeded", said NASA's Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen.

Researchers hope to learn how energy and heat move through the sun's solar cornea and explore what accelerates both solar wind and solar energetic particles - discoveries six-decades in the making.

"Parker Solar Probe was created to take care of itself and its precious payload during this close approach, with no control from us on Earth - and now we know it succeeded", NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement.

The Parker Solar Probe flew within 15 million miles (24 million kilometres) of the sun's surface Monday night.

The Parker Solar Probe is a spacecraft created to give humans an unprecedented observation of the Sun.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab received the status beacon from the spacecraft at 4:46 p.m. EST on November 7, 2018. The spacecraft will make 23 additional solar flybys during this span, getting closer and closer to our star. At its first approach, the Parker Solar Probe reached a speed of 213,200 miles per hour.

At this distance, the intense sunlight heated the Sun-facing side of Parker Solar Probe's heat shield, called the Thermal Protection System, to about 820 degrees Fahrenheit. For reference, the spacecraft set that particular "closest approach" record by creeping within 26.55 million miles of the Sun. "Now, we have realised humanity's first close visit to our star, which will have implications not just here on Earth, but for a deeper understanding of our universe", Zurbuchen added. The beacon indicates status "A" - the best of all four possible status signals, meaning that Parker Solar Probe is operating well with all instruments running and collecting science data and, if there were any minor issues, they were resolved autonomously by the spacecraft.

Parker Solar Probe's first solar encounter phase began on October 31, and the spacecraft will continue collecting science data through the end of the solar encounter phase on November 11. During its 24 trips around the sun, the probe will continually break this record as its orbit decays, and it passes closer and closer. It will take several weeks before it starts to downlink its measurements to scientists on Earth.