NASA’s Parker probe will approach the Sun at a record distance

Scientists will be able to get more information about the outer atmosphere of the star.

NASA’s Parker solar probe will break its own record and become the closest object that has approached the Sun. The probe will break its previous record by traveling within 13.5 million km from the surface of the Sun and moving at a speed of 466 thousand km/h.

This will be the probe’s sixth flight to the Sun since its launch in 2018. As it orbits the Sun, it gets closer to the star with each pass, and during the summer it gets an extra boost, using Venus’s gravity to adjust its trajectory. In July of this year, the probe approached the surface of Venus by only 833 km, and the gravitational assistance from this maneuver allowed the probe to approach the Sun 1.5 times closer.

“We always wonder if we will see something new as we get closer and closer to the Sun. And as the solar cycle rises and the Sun becomes more active, we can observe this activity from an unprecedented point of view, “- noted in NASA.

The probe collects data on the activity of the Sun so that researchers can learn about its outer atmosphere. The approaches allow the probe to collect measurements closer to the Sun than ever before, as well as obtain images of the corona up close.

Scientists want to know more about the solar wind – the flow of charged particles released from the corona, as the wind can move through the solar system and affect space weather. On Earth, space weather affects satellite communications and the electrical systems of ships in orbit, and radiation can even affect astronauts too.