NASA's Parker Solar Probe Just Smashed Two Records in a Single Day

Katie Ramirez
November 3, 2018

Solar spacecraft smashes records for speed and proximity to the Sun (PHOTOS) A NASA probe has gotten closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft, coming within 26.65 million miles of the solar surface - and set the record for the fastest-ever man made object in the process.

Probe Parker, October 29, at about 13:04 East coast time US (19:04 CET) broke the previous record of this kind, belonging to the German-American Helios 2 probe. Its final close approach in 2025 is expected to get within 3.83 million miles of the flaming gaseous orb.

"It's been just 78 days since the mission was launched, and we've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history", said Andy Driesman, project manager, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Parker Solar Probe was also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun on October 29 at about 10:54 p.m. EDT. It broke the record set by the Helios 2 probe in 1976. However, the team says that they are more focused on the first solar encounter, which is expected to happen from 31 of October.

An artist's sketch of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the sun. The probe will continue on its journey towards the Sun's surface until it reaches the star's first perihelion on November 5th. NASA explains:The DSN sends a signal to the spacecraft, which then retransmits it back to the DSN, allowing the team to determine the spacecraft's speed and position based on the timing and characteristics of the signal. And it will keep getting closer to the sun until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles (24 million kilometres) of the solar surface. Parker was one of the first in the world of specialists involved in studies of the solar wind. Eric Christian, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told UPI last month ahead of the probe's launch. It'll eventually travel within four million miles of the star, where it'll face "brutal heat and radiation conditions while providing humanity with unprecedentedly close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades", according to NASA.

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