Saturday , January 16 2021

Parker Solar Probe: Sun-skimming mission begins to call home

StreamerPicture Copyright
NASA / NRL / Parker Solar Probe


Parker took this picture of a streamer, a close part of the corona, on November 8th

Just weeks after making the nearest aerodrome in the sun, Nasas Parker Solar Probe returns its data.

Included in the observations is this remarkable picture of the energetic gas or plasma flowing from the star.

The bright dot is actually remote Jupiter. The black dots are repetitions that occur simply because of the way the image is constructed.

Parker's WISPR instrument purchased only 8.2 million km from the sun's surface on 8 November.

The image looks sideways behind the probe's thick heat shield.

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Picture Copyright


Artwork: Parks must always keep their heat hood pointed to the sun

The Nasa mission was launched back in August to study the mysteries of the sun's outer atmosphere or corona.

This region is strangely hotter than the star's "surface" or photo spheres. Although this may be 6000 degrees, the outer atmosphere can reach up to a few million degrees.

The mechanisms that produce this superheat are not fully understood.

Parker aims to solve the jigsaw puzzle by passing through the outer atmosphere and directly sampling its particle, magnetic and electrical fields.

"We have to go into this region to try the new plasma, the newly synthesized material, to see which processes are going on there," explained Nicola Fox, Director of the Heliophysics Division, Nasa HQ in Washington DC.

"We will understand why this temperature inversion is like i – you go away from a hot star and the atmosphere gets hotter no colder as you would expect."

Not only are Parker breaking records for proximity to the sun, it is also setting new speed records for a spacecraft. At the recent aerodrome, it achieved 375,000 km / h. The fastest any previous probe was managed around 250,000 km / h.

Parks will still move faster on future close passages from the Sun.

The latest science from the mission is presented here at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting – the largest annual collection of space and space researchers.

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