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



Parker Solar Probe, NASA's historic mission to solve the mystery of the Sun, is alive and well after skimming the sun just 15 million miles from its surface.

This is much closer than any spacecraft ever left – the previous record was set by Helios B in 1976 and broken by Parker on October 29 – and this maneuver revealed a space ship with intense heat and sunlight in a complex environment of solar wind, NASA said on Thursday.

On November 5, the spacecraft made the closest approach called perihelion. The Parker Solar Probe has reached a maximum speed of 213,200 miles per hour, achieving a new spacecraft speed record.

At this distance, intense sunlight heated the solar side of Probe's thermal shield called the Thermal Protection System to about 820 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature will rise to 2500 fahrenheit because the spacecraft is closer to the Sun, NASA said.

"Parker Solar Probe has been designed to take care of itself and its valuable payload, without our control on Earth, during this narrow approach – and we know that this has been done," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator at NASA's Washington headquarters .

On November 7, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab's lab labels received a status light from the spacecraft at 16:46. (EST).

The beacon marked the "A" state – the best of all four possible status signals, which means that the Parker Solar Probe works well with all the tools running and collecting scientific data, and if there were any minor problems, the spacecraft was solved autonomously.

"Parker is the culmination of six decades of scientific progress. We have now realized that the first human visit to our star, which will have consequences not only on Earth but for deeper understanding of our universe," added Zurbuchen.

The first phase of the solar meeting with Parker Solar Probe began on October 31, and the space probe will continue to collect data from science until the end of the solar session on Nov. 11. It will be a few weeks after the end of the solar meeting phase before the commencement of scientific data on descending on Earth.

The spacecraft repeatedly violates its own speed record as its orbit is approaching the star and the spacecraft travels faster and faster on the perihelion, says NASA.


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