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NASA Solar Probe Becomes Closest Spacecraft to the Sun

first_imgStay on target NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendScientists Discover Possible Interstellar Visitor NASA’s Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object.The spacecraft on Monday passed within 26.55 million miles of the Sun’s surface, beating the previous achievement, set by the German-American Helios 2 in April 1976.Expect a lot more broken records as the Parker Solar Probe mission continues, prepared to make a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface in 2024.“It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” project manager Andy Driesman, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement.“It’s a proud moment for the team,” he added, “though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on Oct. 31.”Starting Wednesday, the probe will begin moving closer and closer to the Sun’s surface, until it reaches its first perihelion—the point at which the satellite is nearest to the Sun—around 10:28 p.m. ET on Nov. 5.But it won’t be easy.According to NASA, the spacecraft will face “brutal” heat and radiation conditions “while providing humanity with unprecedentedly close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades.”The agency’s first spacecraft named after a living person (physicist Eugene Parker) launched on Aug. 12; it features a memory card containing photos of Parker and a copy of his 1958 scientific paper predicting important aspects of solar physics.Data collected by the Parker Solar Probe, NASA said, will add “key knowledge” to the agency’s understanding of our Sun, “where changing conditions can propagate out into the Solar System, affecting Earth and other worlds.”More cosmic coverage on Geek.com:NASA Shares Phone Wallpaper-Worthy Images of Feline NebulaAstronomers Propose New Method for Detecting Massive Black HolesThis Plant Hormone Could Help Grow Potatoes in Spacelast_img

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