NASA spacecraft sets record for closest approach to sun

NASA spacecraft sets record for closest approach to sun

The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft's precise speed and position using NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN.

In a record breaking move, a NASA spacecraft made the closest approach to the Sun. In the final flyby in 2015, Parker Solar Probe will cruise at the closest 3.83 million miles from the sun's surface.

It will continue to break its own record over the next seven years, carrying out 24 close approaches, reaching within 3.83 million miles from the sun by 2024.

The probe has been launched this August, so it's awesome how fast it flies to the Sun. It launched in January 1976, and in April it approached the Sun at a distance of 43.4 million miles.

Helios 2 also set the mark back then for fastest speed relative to the sun, at 153,454 miles per hour (246,960 km/h).

NASA's Parker Solar Probe, which launched earlier this year, has set a new record for becoming the closest human-made object to the Sun, the USA space agency announced Monday. The spacecraft should complete the last of its two-dozen close flybys of the Sun in 2025.

"It's a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on October 31", said Andy Driesman, project manager for the probe with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in a statement.

The spacecraft is carrying a number of state-of-the-art instruments, allowing NASA scientists to collect vital data in order to answer fundamental questions about the Earth's closest star.

The first of these two dozen close encounters is just around the corner: It officially begins Wednesday (Oct. 31), with perihelion (closest solar approach) coming on the night of November 5. Thus, it will provide the information, and also take samples of the corona's particle, and analyze the Sun's magnetic and electric fields.

This way, scientists will be able to forecast solar winds or solar storms that are known to create the lovely aurora borealis but also disrupt communications, satellites, or power grids.

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