Amazon Quiz: Which spacecraft recently entered the atmosphere of this astronomical body?
- Amazon Quiz (July 4): Which spacecraft recently entered the atmosphere of this astronomical body?
Amazon Quiz (July 4): Which spacecraft recently entered the atmosphere of this astronomical body?
Deep space climate observatory
On August 12, 2018, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carried NASA's Parker Solar Probe into orbit. The Parker Solar Probe's goal is to conduct in-depth research on the sun.
On April 28, 2021, during its eighth flyby, the ground-breaking solar probe plunged within the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, becoming the first spacecraft to "touch" the sun. Over the course of its seven-year existence, the probe will make 24 laps around the sun, coming seven times nearer to our star than any previous spacecraft has ever gone.
According to the European Space Agency, the Parker Solar Probe is named for pioneering astronomer Eugene Parker, who originally hypothesised the presence of solar wind in 1958. Parker saw the probe while it was being built and was present when it was launched, making him the first person to have ever seen their namesake spacecraft take off. On March 15, 2022, Professor Emeritus Eugene N. Parker passed away. He was 94 years old.
"Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we've puzzled over for more than six decades," in a statement, Nicola Fox, a scientist with the Parker Solar Probe Project at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), said.
"It's a spacecraft loaded with technological breakthroughs that will solve many of the largest mysteries about our star, including finding out why the sun's corona is so much hotter than its surface. And we're very proud to be able to carry Gene's name with us on this amazing voyage of discovery," Fox added.
The probe was pushed by the sun's strong gravity to a top speed of 101 miles per second, or an astounding 364,621 mph, on its 10th close solar flyby on November 21, 2021. This is the fastest any probe has ever moved.
According to NASA, the Parker Solar Probe will accelerate to a staggering 430,000 mph on its closest approach to the sun.