NASA Spacecraft Sets Record For The Closest Approach To Sun

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A German-American spacecraft had reached within 26.55 million miles of the Sun's surface in April 1976 to set the previous record. As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun's surface expected in 2024.

In a Statement, Parker Solar Probe project Manager, Andy Driesman, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said that it has just been 78 days to the launch of Parker Solar Probe and we are closer than ever to the Sun.

But to truly understand solar wind, scientists need to get closer to the Sun, and they've been thinking about such a mission such as the Parker Solar Probe since the late 1970s.

The probe, launched in August, is now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever been. Like the Parker Solar Probe, Helios 2 was a probe sent into solar (heliocentric) orbit to study the processes on the Sun. It will pass within 15 million miles (24 million km) of the surface of the sun.

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"It's a proud moment for the team, though we remain focussed on our first solar encounter". The previous record was set by Helios 2 Spacecraft in April 1976. On its closest approach in 2024, the probe will be traveling at approximately 430,000 miles per hour, setting a new speed record for a manmade object.

The impressive mission in getting so close to the sun is on its way, and the Parker Solar Probe has already broken some of the records.

The Parker Solar Probe will continue to accelerate and close in on the sun until around 3:30 a.m. GMT on 6 November (11:30 p.m. 5 November EST), when it will reach "perihelion" - the closest point in its orbit, and begin its long swing back out past the orbit of Venus. Now it is preparing to encounter the Sun on Wednesday, 31 October. The spacecraft uses a special carbon-composite shield for protection from intense heat and radiation during close flybys.

The Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA aircraft to be named after a living astrophysicist; 91-year-old Eugene Parker, who proposed the notion of solar wind.

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