Parker Solar Probe braves scorching solar surface during 15th close approach to Sun

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 22-03-2023 08:36 IST | Created: 22-03-2023 08:25 IST


Video Credit: NASA

Last week, the Parker Solar Probe, a NASA spacecraft designed to study the Sun up-close, completed its 15th close approach to the Sun, during which it came within 5.3 million miles of the scorching solar surface. Several other observatories, both ground and space-based, collected data during this close encounter, thanks to the geometry of Parker's latest orbit which placed it in direct view of Earth and these Sun-observing spacecraft.

According to NASA, the Parker Solar Probe travelled at 364,619 miles per hour, fast enough to fly from New York to Tokyo in just over a minute, during this close approach - called perihelion - which happened on March 17.

More than 40 observatories across the world trained their visible, infrared, and radio telescopes on the Sun for several weeks around Parker's encounter. This was a rare opportunity because an entire Parker encounter can be seen from Earth once every three to four orbits, the agency said.

"There are several types of observations that we can’t get from Parker, such as images of the Sun, observations of the magnetic field and flares near the solar surface, and coronagraph imaging. This is an important chance to obtain different kinds of information that provide more context for the data Parker sends back and help expand our understanding of our star," said Nour Raouafi, Parker's project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

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