NASA sun spacecraft whizzes through 9th solar flyby

NASA’s sun-grazing spacecraft is making its ninth daring dive previous our neighborhood star in a unbroken quest to puzzle out secrets and techniques of how the sun works.

Parker Solar Probe was closest to the sun throughout its newest flyby on Monday (Aug. 9) at 3:10 p.m. EDT (1910 GMT), when the spacecraft was about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million kilometers) away from the sun’s floor. At that point, the probe was touring at about 330,000 mph (532,000 kph). The spacecraft is specializing in understanding the mechanism by which the sun’s environment will get so scorching — hundreds of levels hotter than the sun’s floor — and the origins of the solar wind, a relentless flood of charged particles streaming throughout the solar system.

As the spacecraft flies ever nearer to the sun, it’s higher poised to crack these mysteries. “We are getting into the critical phase of the Parker mission and we’re focused on quite a few things during this encounter,” Nour E. Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe challenge scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, stated in a NASA statement.

Related: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe captures stunning Venus photo
Read extra: What’s inside the sun? A star tour from the inside out

“We expect the spacecraft to be flying through the acceleration zone of the perpetual flow of charged particles that make up the solar wind,” Raouafi added. “Solar exercise can be selecting up, which is promising for learning larger-scale solar wind buildings, like coronal mass ejections, and the energetic particles related to them.”

During Monday’s flyby, the spacecraft matched its current data — that are additionally humanity’s data total — for the closest strategy to the sun and fastest-moving object of a spacecraft. However, Parker Solar Probe will quickly resume its spate of breaking each data.

In October, the mission will fly previous Venus for the fifth time, utilizing the planet’s gravity to regulate its trajectory through space and sneak nonetheless nearer to the sun. After this year’s maneuver, two extra Venus flybys stay on the spacecraft’s agenda earlier than the tip of its present deliberate mission, which is able to are available in 2025. By then, the spacecraft shall be flying simply 3.8 million miles (6.1 million kilometers) from the floor of the sun.

Although the staff behind Parker Solar Probe has some expectations for what immediately’s observations will present, it is nonetheless doable the scientists will discover yet one more solar shock.

“You never know what else you’ll find exploring this close to the sun,” Raouafi stated, “and that’s always exciting.”

Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or observe her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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