For the first time in history, a spacecraft has “touched” the sun, that is, entered the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona, NASA announced on Tuesday (14). While diving, the Parker Solar Probe collected samples of particles and magnetic fields.
“It’s a milestone in solar energy science and a truly extraordinary achievement,” said astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“Not only does this achievement provide us with a deeper understanding of the evolution of our sun and its effects on our solar system, but everything we’ve learned about our star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe,” he added. .
Parker Solar Probe: Understanding NASA’s Sun Exploration Mission
Nour Al-Rawafi of Johns Hopkins University and the Parker spacecraft project scientist described the feat as “amazingly exciting”.
Al-Rawafi said that Corona appears to contain more dust than previously thought. He said future diving into the solar atmosphere will help scientists better understand the origins of the solar wind and how it is heated and accelerated through space.
Unlike the Earth, the Sun does not have a solid surface. But its atmosphere is extremely hot, made of solar material bound to it by gravity and magnetic forces. Heat and pressure push this material away from the Sun until gravity and magnetic fields are too weak to contain it.
This phenomenon gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of energetic particles emitted from the solar corona that can affect activities on Earth, from satellites to telecommunications.
NASA’s space probe touches the sun for the first time
In fact, the probe entered the Sun’s atmosphere in April, on its eighth approach to the Sun. It took a few months to receive the data and more to confirm it, the scientists said.
Parker was launched in 2018, 13 million kilometers from the center of the Sun when it first entered the solar atmosphere, and stayed there for about five hours.
The spacecraft has slid in and out of the corona at least three times, speeding more than 100 kilometers per second, according to scientists.
Preliminary data suggests that Parker also dipped into the corona as it approached August 9, but scientists said more analysis is needed. Last month, the probe made its tenth approach to the solar atmosphere.
Parker will continue to approach the Sun and dive deeper into the corona until its final orbit in 2025.
Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s Mission to the Sun – Photo: Claudia Ferreira/G1
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