First Flyby Of The Sun Made By NASA Parker Probe

Jan 7, 2020

 

The NASA Parker Solar Probe recently made its first flyby of our sun. It came within 24 million miles of the sun’s surface.
Credit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez


The NASA Parker Solar Probe recently made its first flyby of our Sun. It came within 24 million miles of the Sun’s surface. Try to imagine what it would be like to be that close to the Sun.

It is about 5 million miles closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury ever gets. It would be scorching hot with high doses of radiation that would be lethal to any human. At that distance the Sun would appear to be 14 times larger in area and 14 times brighter than it would appear here on Earth. The probe will eventually pass much closer to within 3.8 million miles from our Sun. 

 

The spacecraft was designed to withstand the extreme conditions that exist on this mission. The probes shield will withstand the high temperatures and radiation that it will encounter near our Sun. The cameras and sensors are located safely behind this shield and are pointed perpendicular to the Sun. If they were pointed directly at the Sun they would quickly vaporize. 

 

Some new science data was gathered on the first flyby of our Sun. It was found unexpectedly that the plasma that spews out from the Sun into space makes some wild swings back toward the Sun along magnetic fields. The probe was designed to observe the outer corona of the Sun that one can observe during a total eclipse of the Sun.  

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