NASA’s $1.5 Billion Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the surface of the sun than any spacecraft in history.
The PSP launched in August on a historic journey to be the first spacecraft in human history to ‘touch’ the sun.
Now, NASA says that the spacecraft has successfully surpassed the previous record of 26.6 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by Helios-2 set way back in 1976. Furthermore, the Parker Solar Probe will also surpass Helios-2′s speed record of 153,454 miles per hour (247,000 kilometers per hour), relative to the sun.
An artist’s illustration of the Parker Solar Probe as it approaches the Sun. Image Credit: NASA
But the Parker Solar Probe will continue approaching the sun until it eventually flies through its Corona–the Sun’s outer Atmosphere’.
This is expected to happen in the next week when the spacecraft will pass within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of the solar surface.
Eventually, the spacecraft is set to make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years allowing experts to study the home star of our solar system like never before.
The spacecraft will eventually come within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) to the Sun.
And that’s a pretty impressive feat when you think about it.
The spacecraft will have to endure excruciating heat as it travels closer and closer to the sun, while still remaining functional to send data back to earth, for experts to study.
And I can’t get even decent WIFI in the living room.
“It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” said Project Manager Andy Driesman, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
“It’s a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on Oct. 31.”
The SPS is a mission like no other.
Last week, the space agency published a stunning image of the Earth snapped by the $1.5 billion probe which is on a historic journey to touch the sun.
Isn’t our planet beautiful? Image Credit: NASA
“On September 25, 2018, Parker Solar Probe captured a view of Earth as it sped toward the first Venus gravity assist of the mission,” NASA said.
“Earth is the bright, round object visible in the right side of this image, taken by Parker Solar Probe’s Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) instrument.”
“The elongated mark toward the bottom of the panel is a lens reflection from the WISPR instrument.”
The image of our planet was taken at a distance of 27 million miles (43 million km), and it shows Earth as a massive bright spot surrounded by a sea of stars.
The Spacecraft is expected to arrive at its destination in November but will travel past Venus before that, using the planet’s gravitational pull in order to align its course.