Space & Astronomy
'Historic moment' as solar probe 'touches the Sun'
December 15, 2021 | 7 comments
Touching a star. Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Scientists have announced that NASA's Parker Solar Probe has entered our star's corona.
Named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker who originally predicted the existence of the solar wind, the Parker Solar Probe, which launched back in 2018, is on a fantastic journey like no other - a mission to the very heart of the solar system to learn the secrets of the Sun itself.
Scientists announced on Tuesday that the probe had, for the first time, dipped into the Sun's outer atmosphere - a region known as the corona - directly sampling the star that has nurtured life on our planet for billions of years.
Built to withstand extreme temperatures and moving at speeds of 320,000mph, the probe survived its close encounter with the Sun by dipping into the corona for only brief periods.
While it was in there, it used its on-board instruments to record as much data as possible.
"Touching the Sun is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat," said NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen.
"Not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun's evolution and its impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe."
The actual rendez-vous occurred back in April, however it took until now for scientists to confirm it.
"We saw the conditions change completely," said Stuart Bale from the University of California, Berkley.
"Inside the corona, the Sun's magnetic field grew much stronger, and it dominated the movement of the particles there. So the spacecraft was surrounded by material that was truly in contact with the Sun."
Source: BBC News
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