Hexbyte – News – Science/Nature |
An illustration of Parker Solar Probe passing Venus. Credit: NASA/JHU/APL
Hexbyte – News – Science/Nature | The spacecraft will fly by Venus seven times throughout the mission.
On Wednesday, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus for a gravity assist, a maneuver that will nudge the spacecraft into its unprecedented journey to the sun. Overall, the probe will use Venus’ gravity seven times over the course of mission to gradually bring itself closer to the Sun.
Launched in August 2018, NASA’s Parker Probe is humanity’s first mission to the sun. The mission is named after solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker and will travel closer to sun than any spacecraft in history. It will fly directly into our sun’s atmosphere as close as 4 million miles from the star’s surface. The objective for the mission is to explore the sun’s outer atmosphere or corona and to understand the physical mechanisms that accelerate the solar wind and energetic particles. The resulting data will improve forecasts of hazardous space weather events that impact life on Earth and interfere with satellites in space.
To perform these unprecedented investigations, the spacecraft is carrying four instrument suites. These instruments are designed to measure the sun’s magnetic field, plasma and particles from the sun and capture images of solar wind and environment around the spacecraft. Since the spacecraft will travel through material with temperatures greater than a million degrees Fahrenheit, the probe is also equipped with a specially designed heat shield. The state-of-the-art heat shield will keep the spacecraft and its instruments safe and protect them from unprecedented levels of radiation and heat.
The spacecraft will reach speeds up to 430,000 miles per hour as it travels through space. That’s fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in under a minute. During the seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will complete 24 orbits of the Sun and get closer and closer to the sun with every orbit. But getting so close to the Sun and adjusting the path require slowing down, for which Parker will use the gravity of our neighbor planet, Venus.
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Hira Bashir” height=”80″ src=”https://static1.i4u.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/authorbio_pic/user_images/picture-47.jpg” title=”” width=”80″>Hira Bashir
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