Home Sci/Tech 17-First spacecraft to ‘touch’ the sun was Parker Solar Probe.

17-First spacecraft to ‘touch’ the sun was Parker Solar Probe.

"Parker Solar Probe: The Sun's First Touch"

by Ratan Pramanik
Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe:-

Parker Solar Probe
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On August 12, 2018, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carried NASA’s Parker Solar Probe into orbit. The Parker Solar Probe aims 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 (ESA), the Parker Solar Probe is named for pioneering astronomer Eugene Parker, who originally hypothesized 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.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL) Nicola Fox, the project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe, stated in a statement that the mission will provide answers to solar physics puzzles that have baffled scientists for more than 60 years.

The spacecraft’s technological innovations will help to explain many of the biggest mysteries surrounding our star, such as why the sun’s corona is so much hotter than its surface. And we’re incredibly honored to be able to honor Gene with his name alongside us on this fantastic exploration journey.

Paced Solar Probe By Parker:-

Paced Solar Probe By Parker
Image By – LA Times Graphics – Los Angeles Times

The probe was propelled by the sun’s strong gravity to a top speed of 101 miles (163 kilometers) per second, or an astounding 364,621 mph (586,000 kph), on November 21, 2021, during its tenth close solar encounter. That is more rapid than any previous probe’s speed.

Parker Solar Probe will travel at dizzying rates of about 430,000 mph (700,000 kph) during its closest approach to the sun, according to NASA.

Parker Solar Probe Trajectory:-

Parker Solar Probe Trajectory
Image By – Research Gate

The Parker Solar Probe has traveled nearer to the sun than any other spacecraft and will keep doing so for the duration of its roughly seven-year existence.

Without a sequence of flybys of Venus, the solar probe’s swooping track around the sun would not be conceivable. According to the APL, the probe would gradually shrink its orbit around the sun throughout its lifetime using seven Venus flybys, getting as close as 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) – more than seven times closer than Mercury does to our star.

Trajectory. Check out this video for a more in-depth animation. In order to achieve a final altitude (above the surface) of roughly 8.5 solar radii, or about 6 106 km (3.7 106 mi; 0.040 au), the Parker Solar Probe mission design repeatedly uses gravity assistance at Venus to gradually decrease its orbital perihelion.

Thermal Data For The Parker Solar Probe:-

Thermal Data For The Parker Solar Probe
Image By – YouTube

According to APL, the probe’s solar shields will experience about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,400 degrees Celsius) during its closest approach to the sun.

Surprisingly, the science equipment on board the spaceship will be shielded from these sweltering temperatures and will maintain a temperature of roughly 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

Aim Of The Parker Solar Probe:-

Aim Of The Parker Solar Probe
Image By – The Sun Today

To better understand how energy and heat move through the sun’s atmosphere and impact phenomena like the solar wind, the Parker Solar Probe is observing the sun up close.

The Parker Solar Probe’s three primary scientific goals are, according to APL, as follows:

(i) Track the energy flow that warms and accelerates the solar wind and corona.

(ii) Identify the magnetic and plasma fields’ structure and behavior at the solar wind’s sources.

(iii) Investigate the processes that propel and move energetic particles.

Although the sun is the planet’s major heat and light source, it also has other effects on the environment. According to NASA, the solar wind is a flow of charged particles that originates from the star and travels past Earth at a rate of more than a million miles per hour (400 kilometers per second). Space weather is a term used to describe a collection of changes that are brought on by disturbances in the solar wind, which can also cause our planet’s magnetic field to tremble and the radiation belts to absorb energy.

Aim Of The Parker Solar Probe
Image By – ClearIAS

The solar wind and other solar outbursts like solar flares and coronal mass ejections have a big impact on space weather. Space weather can endanger communications on Earth, satellites, and even spacewalking astronauts during periods of high activity when the solar cycle is at solar maximum.

In order to strengthen space forecasting efforts and be more prepared for fluctuations in solar activity, scientists are learning more about the mechanics that drive the sun thanks to the Parker Solar Probe.
The APL Parker Solar Probe states
.

“Until we can explain what is happening up close to the sun, we will not be able to accurately predict space weather effects that can cause havoc at Earth.”

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Pilot Solar Probe Instruments By Parker:-

Pilot Solar Probe Instruments By Parker
Image By – The times

The satellite contains the following four instruments:

Through measurements of the characteristics of electrons, protons, and helium ions, the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation (SWEAP) counts the solar wind’s most prevalent particles.

Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe Plus (WISPR) is a telescope that creates three-dimensional pictures of the inner heliosphere and corona of the sun in order to “see” the solar wind and offer 3D pictures of shocks and other structures as they pass the spacecraft. In 2020, the WISPR sensor noticed a brilliant rim encircling Venus while passing by it. According to NASA officials who described the image, scientists speculate that it might be a phenomenon called nightglow that is created by “light emitted by oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere that recombine into molecules in the nightside.

The shock waves that rip through the solar atmosphere’s plasma are directly measured by the Electromagnetic Fields Investigation (FIELDS).
By employing a mass spectrometer to examine charged particles close to the probe, the two instruments that make up the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (IS-IS) will compile a list of the substances present in the solar atmosphere.

The Legacy Of Eugene Newman Parker:-
The Legacy Of Eugene Newman Parker
Image By – myRepublica – Nagarik Nework

Eugene Newman Parker, an astronomer at the University of Chicago, put up a number of theories regarding how stars, including our sun, emit energy in the 1950s. He defined the solar wind, the cascade of energy streaming from the sun, as a whole complicated system of plasmas, magnetic fields, and magnetic particles.

The mission’s original name was Solar Probe Plus. But in 2017, just a few days before the scientist turned 90, NASA decided to rename the project in Parker’s honor.

“This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft for a living individual,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “It’s a monument to the significance of his body of work, creating a brand-new field of study that also served as the basis for my research and many crucial scientific issues that NASA continues to investigate and better understand on a daily basis. I’m thrilled to have a personal role in honoring a wonderful man and his extraordinary legacy.

The majority of NASA missions have new names after being launched and approved. To highlight Parker’s significant contributions to heliophysics and space science, it was decided in this instance to honor him prior to the launch.

The mission has been in the works since 1958, but it has taken so long “not because we weren’t excited,” Fox said to reporters prior to the launch in 2018, “but because we had to wait 60 years for technology to catch up with our dreams.”

According to Parker, “The solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored.” The fact that we will finally get a look is quite thrilling. It would be helpful to get some more precise measurements of the solar wind’s activity. There will undoubtedly be a few surprises. There are always.

The Legacy Of Eugene Newman Parker
Image By – The Telegraph

Parker was the first person to ever watch the launch of their own spacecraft on August 12, 2018, making history. According to his NASA biography, Parker also received a number of honors for his work and significant contributions to science, including the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy, the James Clerk Maxwell Prize, the Kyoto Prize, the National Medal of Science, the Bruce Medal, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Professor Emeritus Eugene N. Parker, a pioneering astronomer, passed away on March 15, 2022, at the age of 94, according to a statement issued by the University of Chicago.

Michael Turner, a longtime Parker colleague and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, declared that “the university and the department have lost one of its giants.” With his research on magnetic fields, Gene literally changed the trajectory of science. Despite this, he remained humble, personable, and had a dry sense of humor.

Advanced Resources For Parker:-
Advanced Resources
Image By – CNIRS

This NASA press kit contains more information about the Parker Solar Probe mission. A series of quick movies from APL will help you learn more about the solar probe’s equipment. Take a look at what Kelly Korreck, a NASA scientist, has to say about what it takes to be a solar scientist. Use these ESA resources to learn more about the solar orbiting mission of the Solar Orbiter.

Parker Solar Probe from NASA:
Parker Solar Probe from NASA
Image By – SURPASS – Johns Hopkins University

The Parker Solar Probe is a NASA spacecraft that aims to “touch the Sun.” The spacecraft is approaching the Sun’s surface at a closer distance than any other mission has. Our understanding of the Sun will be fundamentally altered by the expedition. Parker will approach the Sun more than seven times closer than any other spacecraft.

After passing the Sun at a mere 15 million miles from its surface, the Parker Solar Probe is still alive and thriving. The previous record was achieved by Helios B in 1976 and surpassed by Parker on October 1, making this the closest any spacecraft has ever come.
The spacecraft survived the solar flyby and is now healthy and functioning regularly. The Parker Solar Probe will make its sixth pass by Venus on August 21, 2023.
NASA spent $1.5 billion on the solar probe. The launch vehicle was dedicated to APL engineer Andrew A. Dantzler, who had contributed to the project.

The innovative Parker Solar Probe from NASA has now completed its third close pass of the sun.

On Sunday, September 1, the spacecraft performed its third close solar flyby, passing our star at a distance of just 15 million miles (24 million km), according to NASA. The probe was moving at a speed of almost 213,200 mph (343,100 km/h) at the time of closest approach, or perihelion, they noted.

And the Parker Solar Probe made it through its most recent test by fire in good shape.

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