The Parker Solar Probe will encounter blistering temperatures of 1,370 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit) as it approaches the Sun. Image credit: JHUAPL
Parker Solar Probe is alive and well after skimming by the Sun at just 24 million kilometres (15 million miles) from our star’s surface. This is far closer than any spacecraft has ever gone — the previous record was set by Helios B in 1976 and broken by Parker on 29 October 2018 — and this manoeuvre has exposed the spacecraft to intense heat and solar radiation in a complex solar wind environment.
“Parker Solar Probe was designed 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,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States. “Parker is the culmination of six decades of scientific progress. 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.”
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab received the status beacon from ...