Friday November 09, 2018

Parker Solar Probe Survives its First Pass Around the Sun

The Parker Solar Probe left Earth and started barreling towards the Sun back in August, and NASA reports that it just recently survived its first close encounter with the Sun. The spacecraft came within 15 million miles of its surface, smashing the previous record of f 26.55 million miles set in 1976. It also broke the spacecraft speed record, reaching a top speed of 213,200mph at the closest approach, and the heat shield reached a temperature of 820 degree Fahrenheit. These records will be repeatedly smashed as it spirals closer to our star, transmitting valuable data after each pass. Check out a video of the probe's progress below:

This temperature will climb up to 2,500 F as the spacecraft makes closer approaches to the Sun but all the while, the spacecraft instruments and systems that are protected by the heat shield are generally kept in the mid-80s F. Parker Solar Probe's first solar encounter phase began on Oct. 31, and the spacecraft will continue collecting science data through the end of the solar encounter phase on Nov. 11. It will be several weeks after the end of the solar encounter phase before the science data begins downlinking to Earth.