Parker Solar Probe
(Photo : Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

NASA's Parker solar probe just broke its own speed and distance as records show it moved closer to the Sun.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Mission

NASA released its Parker Solar Probe mission to better understand the Sun, especially its shifting conditions capable of propagating into the solar system. These changes would affect Earth, other neighboring planets, and even uncharted worlds.

Parker Solar Probe orbits through the atmosphere of the Sun--closer to its surface than any probes that came before it. In return, it will meet the Sun's brutal heat and radiation.

The probe will serve as humanity's first closest glance of the scorching star.

What is The Parker Solar Probe Made of?

To give Parker Solar Probe the capabilities to discover the mystery behind the Sun's atmosphere, it will use Venus's gravity during seven flybys for seven years to gradually bring closer to the Sun.

But to do this, the Parker Solar Probe should be able to withstand the heat by equipping it with a cutting-edge heat shield. NASA calls it the Thermal Protection System. The shield is entirely made up of carbon composite foam and is sandwiched by two carbon plates.

They also have FIELDS, which is responsible for measuring the electric field surrounding the spacecraft with five antennas.

Four antennas stick outside the probe's heat shield and into the sunlight, so they experience a temperature of 2,500 F. These antennas comprise niobium alloy, capable of enduring extreme temperatures.

To help humanity expand their knowledge about the Sun, Parker Solar Probe uses a wide-field imager; the only imaging instrument aboard the spacecraft.

Parker Solar Probe also utilizes a combination of in situ measurements and imaging so people from Earth can understand the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Besides that, the probe is also an important contribution in helping us forecast changes in our space environment as it will also impact Earth's life and technology.

The spacecraft was launched on August 12, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, with Delta IV-Heavy with the upper stage as its launch vehicle.

Related Article: NASA Probe Studying the Sun Breaks Record as the Fastest Man-Made Object in Space

Parker Solar Probe Speed

NASA officials reported that the Parker Solar Probe broke its own record of speed and distance this Sunday (November 21), marking it as the closest it has been towards the Sun.

The spacecraft achieved a speed of 101 miles (163 kilometers) per second while at its 10th close solar flyby on Sunday. That translates to 364,621 mph (586,000 kph), NASA officials reported.

In addition, Parker just had its closest distance record as well, just 5.3 million miles (8.5 million km) away from the surface of the Sun.

@NASASun celebrated this achievement on Twitter:

NASA didn't clarify what record the spacecraft broke, but the last close flyby gave us enough numbers to speculate.

Earlier this August, Parker had a record of around 6.5 million miles (10.4 km) from the Sun's surface with a speed of roughly 330,000 mph (532,000 kph).

To gain more speed, NASA expects Parker to keep breaking its own record once it finishes two Venus flybys in August 2023 and November 2024. Then- by December 2024, Parker should be 4 million miles (6.2 million km) closer to the solar surface, setting a speed of more than 430,000 mph (690,000 kph).

Also Read: Parker Solar Probe Could Find Answers To Mystery Behind The Sun's Superheating 

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Written by Thea Felicity

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