The Sun is one of the main reasons for the presence of life on Earth. But it is still relatively poorly understood by scientists who must learn more in order to prepare for space explorations.
Scientific missions towards our Sun have definitely hit the coast lately. While we were talking to you yesterday about the (very) close passage of the European Solar Orbiter probe above our heads, others are much further in their mission program. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which left Cape Canaveral in August 2018, a year before its European counterpart, has just completed its 10th approach around the Sun.
It is initially planned that the probe performs 24 orbits of this type around the Sun in order to collect as much information as possible about it and allow scientists to better understand the mechanisms at work in the heart of the star but also in his run. The outermost part of the Sun, extremely hot, over a million degrees, and which is responsible for solar winds and other phenomena that sweep through our system.
A very close dance around the Sun
As close as possible to the Sun during its mission, the probe was always more than 5 million kilometers from the star. A distance which may seem enormous for us on Earth but it is only a nothing in view of the 150 million kilometers which separates us from the star of the day. To better understand the distance separating all these objects in the sky, it is possible to say that the Earth and the Sun are no longer separated by more than 100 meters. The probe would then be close to the Sun – literally – she who would be three meters in front of him.
According to the first information communicated by NASA about the probe, the latter is doing very well. All the elements respond correctly and the data collection is in full swing, as she goes back and forth as close as possible to the Sun, taking advantage of Venus’ gravitational pull so as not to dive head first into the luminous star. .
A mission planned to last
The probe should remain in this position in orbit around the Sun for more than 4 years, its scientific mission being scheduled to end around the year 2025. Until then, the probe should still be able to study the interactions between the plasma and solar winds that constantly cross the region.
The first of these two elements is created after repeated impacts between the ship’s heat shield and grains of dust, finer than hair, which hit the probe head-on. The latter revolving at more than 579,000 kilometers per hour around the Sun.