Parker Solar Probe’s first close look at the Sun

Parker Solar Probe’s first close look at the Sun

NASA scientists have received scientific data from the Parker Solar Probe’s first close encounter with the Sun. The data package also included a photo taken from a distance of “only” 27 million kilometers. This photograph is the closest picture taken of the Sun, or rather its corona.

A few weeks after the Parker Solar Probe approached our star at a record distance of 24 millionoin a kilometerow, scientific data from the flyby made its way into the hands of scientistsow. This moment has long been awaited by many heliophysicistsow. The information obtained will certainly expand our knowledge of the Sun.

On November 11, 2018, the Parker Solar Probe completed the first phase of its mission, passing through the Sun’s outermost atmosphere – corona. At the time it collected unique data with its four cutting-edge scientific instruments.

The first scientific data arrived on Earth on December 7. Data from the first close flyby was shared by NASA researchers at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. Only about one-fifth of the data recorded during the first flyby will reach researchers before the probe hides behind the Sun. Scientists will receive the rest next year, between March and May.

The image was taken by the Wide-field Imager (WISPR) instrument and shows unprecedented detailoły of the solar corona. Bright „geyser” is the stream of plasma ejected by the Sun on November 8, 2018. The Sun itself is not visible in the photo, it is on the left outside the frame. The bright dot below is… Jupiter, and the accompanying dark spots are the result of background correction.

– Heliophysicists have waited decades for such a mission to be possible, said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA. Heliophysics is a branch of astrophysics thatorego headoThe Sun and its impact on near-Earth space is of primary interest, wokoł other worldow and the entire solar system. – Secrets of the Sun, ktore we want to know, they are waiting for us in the corona – she added.

The Sun affects virtually every object in the Solar System with a. Solar wind – The stream of plasma ejected from the star fills our planetary system, creating a bubble thatora surrounds the planets and extends far beyond the orbit of Neptune. The first scientist whoory theorized about the solar wind, was Eugen Parker. His 1958 paper, in which heorej developed the theory of the solar wind, described a whole complex system thatory creates this phenomenon has had a huge impact on the understanding of the phenomenon. It is his name that carries the probe. This is the first time NASA has named a probe after a living person.

The Parker Solar Probe was designed for scientific research, whichore expected to answer several majorow questions about the physics of the Sun. First of all, howob the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, is heated to temperatures hundreds of times higher than the star’s surface itself? Corona has about two million st. Celsius, while the surface of the Sun about 5500 st. C. Researchers are also sure to be interested in howohow the solar wind so quickly reaches the enormous speeds thatowhich we observe.

– Parker Solar Probe will provide us with a measurementow necessary to understand solar phenomena thatore have puzzled us for decades,” explained Nour Raouafi, a scientist on the Parker Solar Probe mission from Johns Hopkins University. – Data from the local probication of the solar corona and the young solar wind, and Parker Solar Probe is doing just that, will shed light on the secrets of the star’s – added.

Parker’s instruments aim to look at these phenomena in waysob, ktory previously not possible, giving scientists the opportunity to take new stepsoin the study of the solar atmosphere. The instruments installed on the probe (WISPR, ISʘIS or FIELDS) will provide unprecedented data obtained from a new perspective. They will help determine the causes of the energetic acceleration of particles. The solar wind will be studied as it begins its journey. Researchers will be able to see how it evolves.

Solar Probe Cup instrument, whichorego part of which goes outside the spacecraft’s thermal shield and is exposed to the full solar environment – measures the thermal properties of roof different speciesow ionoin the solar wind. These measurements can pomoc discover howob solar wind is heated and accelerated.

– We don’t know what to expect so close to the Sun, dopoki we will not receive data, and we will probably see new phenomena, Raouafi said. – Parker Solar Probe is an exploration mission. The potential for new discoveries is enormous – assessed.

During its mission, Parker Solar Probe will repeatedly break records for speed and proximity to the Sun. Over the seven-year mission, the probe is scheduled to make 23 more close flybysowokoł our star. Such close proximity to our star will expose the probe to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. The spacecraft will face temperatures in excess of 1,500 st. Celsius – That’s about as much as it takes to melt steel. But the Parker Solar Probe is specifically designed for this purpose.

Thermal Protection System protects the instruments and sensors inside the probe from the infernal heat. During the first flyby, the temperature did not exceed 450 st. Celsius. This is not much in cfown to what awaits the space vehicle. The fireproof shield is made of 11.5 centimeter composite layeroin carbon. It is thanks to her that the probe will be able to carry out its mission. The vehicle also has a special cooling system that provides the sensors with a temperature at which theorej will be able to work.

Sourceosource: NASA, photo. NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe

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