Parker Solar Probe breaks speed record, becomes closest spacecraft to sun

Parker Solar Probe breaks speed record, becomes closest spacecraft to sun

Parker Solar Probe breaks speed record, becomes closest spacecraft to sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe set two records on October 29 - one for becoming the closest a man-made object has gotten to the sun, and one for becoming the fastest-ever human-made object relative to the sun.

Parker Solar Probe, shown in this animation, became the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun on October 29, 2018, when it passed within 26.55 million miles of the Sun's surface.

It is expected that in 2024, probe Parker will approach the Sun at a distance of about 5 million km.

"It's been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history", said project manager Andy Driesman of APL's Space Exploration Sector.

"The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976."The $1.5 billion unmanned spacecraft launched in August, on a strategic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of unsafe solar storms".

At 10:54 p.m. EDT, the craft also broke the speed record set by Helios 2, surpassing 153,454 miles per hour. Since them, the probe will make a total of 24 perihelions, moving away from the planet Venus and getting closer to the Sun's corona for the best observations that were ever reported about the Sun.

This unmanned spacecraft, built at the cost of 1.5 billion dollars, was launched in August.

It is scheduled to reach its first perihelion on November 5 at 10 p.m. EST. Recently, astronomers have revealed the first photo of the Sun from a space probe. Its closest approach should bring it within 3.83 million miles of the star, which is why the spacecraft had to be outfitted with such extraordinary protection technology. This autonomy is key not only during no-contact phases around the 24 planned perihelia but also throughout the mission, when the round-trip light time - the time it takes for radio signals to go back and forth between Earth and Parker Solar Probe - can be up to 31 minutes. These observations, gathered closer to the Sun than ever before, will help scientists begin to answer outstanding questions about the Sun's fundamental physics - including how particles and solar material are accelerated out into space at such high speeds and why the Sun's atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface below.

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