Parker Solar Probe Breaks Record, Becomes Closest Spacecraft to Sun

  • NASA’ Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object.
  • The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun’s surface on Oct. 29, 2018.
  • The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.
  • As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface expected in 2024.
  • As per NASA, it’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and it now come closer to Sun than any other spacecraft in history.
  • Parker Solar Probe  also  break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun on Oct. 29 at . The earlier record for heliocentric speed was 153,454 miles per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976.
  • The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft’s precise speed and position using NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN. The DSN sends a signal to the spacecraft, which then retransmits it back to the DSN, allowing the team to determine the spacecraft’s speed and position based on the timing and characteristics of the signal.  
  •  NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was launched on August 12, 2018 from Florida. Roughly the size of a small car, the spacecraft lifted off  on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 
  • Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living with a Star program to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The Living with a Star program is managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. APL designed and built, and operates the spacecraft.
  • The mission is named for Eugene Parker, the physicist who first theorized the existence of the solar wind in 1958. It’s the first NASA mission to be named for a living researcher.

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