NASA Parker Solar Probe spacecraft sets new record with Sun approach

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Sets Record for Closest Approach to Sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Sets Record for Closest Approach to Sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has just made history by making the closest ever approach to the Sun by a human-made object.

Helios 2 also set the heliocentric orbit speed record in 1976, hitting a top speed of 246,960 kilometres per hour (153,454 miles per hour), also in April.

Not content with just being the closest ever probe to the Sun, NASA expected the spacecraft to break a speed record on Tuesday night as well.

NASA expects to get the first batch of data in December, but the spacecraft has another mission: it holds a memory card with the names of over 1.1 million people who signed up to "travel" to the Sun. The previous record was set back in 1976, that having been bumped to second place at approximately 1:04PM EDT today. It will surpass Helios-2's speed record of 247,000 km/h, relative to the sun.

Another record is in sight for the Parker Solar Probe.

Parker blasted off on its odyssey atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in the early hours of August 12, 2018.

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The probe will begin its first solar encounter on October 31.

The first of these two dozen close encounters is just around the corner: It officially begins Wednesday (Oct. 31), with perihelion (closest solar approach) coming on the night of November 5. The probe will fly through the corona for the first time this week, and it will be only 15 million miles away from the sun's surface. That mission also set a speed record of nearly 70km/s (43 miles/s), and Parker will also break that record in the next years.

The spacecraft sports a special carbon-composite shield to protect itself and its instruments from intense heat and radiation during its close flybys.

It happened on October 29, when Parker crossed the mark of 42.48 million kilometers to the Sun.

Under the plan, Parker several times circled the Sun in elliptical orbit, with each new attempt to reduce the distance to the star.

The primary objective of the Parker Solar Probe is to study the solar wind.

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