Solar spacecraft smashes records for speed and proximity to the Sun

The probe is named in honour of astrophysicist Dr Eugene Parker

Image The probe is named in honour of astrophysicist Dr Eugene Parker

First closer to the Sun Solar Probe Parker, according to the plans, will have to perform on 31 October: it is expected that the unit will be to study the star until November 11.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has clinched the record for closest approach to the Sun by a man-made object, the space agency confirmed Monday.

It happened on October 29, when Parker crossed the mark of 42.48 million kilometers to the Sun.

The spacecraft on Monday passed within 26.55 million miles of the Sun's surface, beating the previous achievement, set by the German-American Helios 2 in April 1976. After that, the probe will burn up in the sunlight.

U.S. space agency NASA boasted in a statement the Parker Solar Probe will continue to break even more records as it makes numerous approaches to the star.

Although the probe has broken the fastest of all speed records, going fast is just a side-effect of the mission's main goal, which is to get its array of scientific instruments as close to the Sun as possible.

The previous record was set back in 1976.

During its 7-year mission, the probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun, coming within 3.8 million miles of its surface, and dip into the corona, the plasmic aura that is even hotter than the surface.

The Parker Solar Probe team measures the spacecraft's speed and position using NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN. Dries man also said that it is a very proud moment for the whole team, but they are focused on their first solar encounter on October 31.

Under the plan, Parker several times circled the Sun in elliptical orbit, with each new attempt to reduce the distance to the star.

The probe's mission will take it through the sun's corona for the first time next week.

To face the heat of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, the spacecraft is well protected by a special 4.5-inch thick carbon-composite shield.

The primary objective of the Parker Solar Probe is to study the solar wind.

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