PHOTOS: NASA’s probe “touches” the sun for the first time in history and represents a new milestone in helioscience


December 15, 2021 05:50 GMT

The agency indicated that it is a great leap in the sciences of the sun, and compared the achievement with the arrival of man to the moon.

For the first time in the history of astronauts, a space probe “touched” the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe flew through the upper atmosphere of our star and sampled particles and magnetic fields, mentioned NASA on Tuesday in a statement.

The agency noted that it is a new milestone and a major breakthrough in solar energy science, as it compared the achievement to the human arrival on the moon. The researchers hope that touching the material the sun is made of will help reveal important information about this star and its impact on the solar system.

“Parker Solar Probe’s touching of the Sun is a “deep moment for solar science and a truly remarkable achievement,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Something we learn about our star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe.”

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The Parker Solar Probe was launched to study the Sun in 2018. It had to get close to the Sun for seven years to reach its maximum distance, which is 6 million km. The strategy is to get in and out quickly, and take measurements of the solar environment with an array of instruments spread behind a thick heat shield.

On April 28 of this year, Parker crossed the so-called Alfvin critical limit for the first time. This is the outer edge of the crown. It is the point at which solar matter, which is normally bound to the sun by gravity and magnetic forces, is released out into space. The probe found a boundary at an altitude of 13 million km above the visible surface of the Sun, or the photosphere.

While flying, the Parker Solar Probe entered and exited the crown several times. Discovering where these bulges align with solar activity from the surface can help scientists understand how events on the sun affect the atmosphere and the solar wind.

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Lovell Loxley

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