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Solar probes "alive" after being closest to Sun: NASA

By: IANS | Washington |

Published: November 10, 2018 8:00:53

Cosmic Space, Astronomy, Space Plasma, Outdoor Space, Light Sources, Plasma Physics, Parker Solar Probe, NASA, Sun, FIELD, Solar Wind, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Mission in Washington, Radiation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration The first phase of the Solar Probe Solar Solar Meeting began on October 31, and the ship will continue to collect scientific data by the end of the sunshine phase on Nov. 11. (Picture: NASA)

Parker Solar Probe, NASA's historic mission to solve the mysteries of the sun, is alive and well after the sun has traveled at only 15 million miles from its surface. This is much closer to any spacecraft ever passed – the previous record was set by Helios B in 1976 and broken by Parker on October 29 – and this maneuver exposed the spacecraft to powerful radiation and sunlight in a complex environment of solar wind, NASA said in a statement Thursday.

On November 5, the ship made the closest approach, called perihelion. The Parker Solar projector reached a maximum speed of 213,200 miles per hour, setting a new record for spacecraft speed. At this distance, the bright sunlight heated the sun's side of the Probe heat shield, called the Thermal Protection System, to about 820 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will climb up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit because the spacecraft makes it close to the Sun, NASA said.

"The Parker Solar Probe project has been designed to take care of itself and its useful tasks in this approach, with no control over us on Earth – and we now know it has succeeded," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate manager of NASA's National Science Division in Washington. On Nov. 7, mission controllers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab received baud status from the spacecraft at 16:46 (EST).

Also read: NASA's Solar Parker Prologue records images of the Earth

The beacon has indicated the status "A" – the best of all four possible status signals, which means that the Parker Solar Probe works well with all tools running and collecting scientific data, and if minor problems have been resolved autonomous mode by the spacecraft. "Parker is the culmination of six decades of scientific progress. Now we have made the first close visit of mankind to our star, which will have implications not only here on Earth but for a deeper understanding of our universe," added Zurbuchen.

Also read: What is NASA's Solar Parker Probe?

The first phase of the Solar Probe Solar Solar meeting began on October 31 and the ship will continue to collect scientific data by the end of the sun's November 11 meeting. It will be a few weeks after the end of the sunrise phase before Earth's downlink scientific data begins. The spaceship will repeatedly break its own speed record as the orbit approaches the star and the spacecraft travels faster and faster to the perihelion, NASA said.

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