Updated June 16, 2019.
Back in mid-March, we posted an article about sending your name to the Sun on the Parker Solar Probe. If you got your name in, you’re about to “touch the Sun”, as the mission says. The Parker Solar Probe launched on Sunday, August 12 at 3:31 am.
The probe, designed to travel through the Sun’s corona, the outer layer of its atmosphere, at a temperature of 2,500 degrees F, at a distance of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface, just completed (on October 3) its first Venus fly-by for the first gravity assist to gain speed. Parker is scheduled for its first solar encounter from October 31 through November 11.
Over the course of its planned seven year mission, Parker will use seven Venus gravity assist maneuvers to increase its speed to 430,000 mph and make 24 solar orbits through the Sun’s corona.
Some of the questions they’re seeking answers to are: Why is the corona of the Sun hotter than the surface? What causes “holes” in the corona? Why is the magnetic field different strengths at the equator and the poles?
Parker has successfully completed its second close approach to the Sun and is now entering the outbound phase of its second solar orbit. At 6:40 p.m. EDT on April 4, 2019, the spacecraft passed within 15 million miles of our star, tying its distance record as the closest spacecraft ever to the Sun; Parker Solar Probe was traveling at 213,200 miles per hour during this pass.
Stay tuned, we’re sure you’ll want to know more about the Sun as the data comes in.