NASA’s spacecraft ‘touches’ Sun for first time braving incredible 1300C temperatures

TO NASA spacecraft has flown through the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, becoming the first to ever do so.

The Parker Solar Probe “touched the sun” when it breached the outer atmosphere, and managed to sample particles and magnetic fields there.

The new milestone marks “one major step for Parker Solar Probe and one giant leap for solar science,” according to a NASA release.

The probe faced unimaginable temperatures of 2370F (1300C) and radiation 500 times stronger than here on Earth.

The flight occurred in April but scientists have only just been able to confirm the probe traveled through the corona. They had to wait months for the data to arrive back from the spacecraft.

NASA‘s Parker Solar Probe has now flown through the Sun’s upper atmosphere – the corona. Parker is making new discoveries that other spacecraft were too far away to see.

The achievement will help us “uncover critical information about our closest star and its influence on the solar system,” scientists said.

“Parker Solar Probe ‘touching the Sun’ is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

“Not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun’s evolution and (its) impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe.”

New research gathered from the solar milestone, which cost NASA $ 1.5billion, has now been included in the Physical Review Letters.

“Fascinatingly exciting,” said project scientist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University.

Parker is making new discoveries that other spacecraft were too far away to see.

As it circles closer to the solar surface, Parker is making new discoveries that other spacecraft were too far away to see, including from within the solar wind – the flow of particles from the Sun that can influence us at Earth.

“The first and most dramatic time we were below for about five hours … Now you might think five hours, that doesn’t sound big,” the University of Michigan’s Justin Kasper told reporters.

But he noted that Parker was moving so fast it covered a vast distance during that time, tearing along at more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) per second.

The first passage through the corona – and the promise of more flybys to come – will continue to provide data on phenomena that are impossible to study from afar.

“I’m excited to see what Parker finds as it repeatedly passes through the corona in the years to come,” said Nicola Fox, division director for the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters. “The opportunity for new discoveries is boundless.”

“It is a really important region to get into because we think all sorts of physics potentially turn on,” Kasper said. “And now we’re getting into that region and hopefully going to start seeing some of these physics and behaviors.”

Source: Mirror