The Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft – which launched on August 12, 2018 – passed the current record of 26.55 million miles (43 million km) from the sun’s surface
§ 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 (6.2 million km) from the sun’s surface expected in 2024.
§ Parker Solar Probe is also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the sun, also on October 29. The current record for heliocentric speed is 153,454 miles per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976.
About the mission:
NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
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