Updated November 26, 2020.
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. 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, completed its sixth solar encounter in September.
Data from this sixth encounter will be released in February 2021, and an early review by the science team has already revealed the mission’s first observation of a sungrazing comet.
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?
The next Parker Solar Probe’s encounter will be on January 12-23, 2021.
Stay tuned, we’re sure you’ll want to know more about the Sun as the data comes in.