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Thread: The Parker Solar Probe passes through Sun's corona in closest approach yet!!

  1. #1 The Parker Solar Probe passes through Sun's corona in closest approach yet!! 
    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    A NASA spacecraft has passed through the solar corona three times, and survived (1). Quoting from (1):

    "The probe's data suggests it actually passed above and below the boundary three separate times in the course of five hours, according to Stuart Bale from the University of California, Berkley."

    end quote

    The Parker Solar Probe (2), traveling at over 500,000 km/hr (320,000 mph), made the passes back in April, but the data to confirm it has taken some time to analyze.

    The mission was designed with high speed to minimize the time the probe spends at high temperatures (3). It is a "hit and run" approach to obtain data from a rather hostile thermal
    environment.

    The probe makes rapid excursions closer to the Sun, and then rapidly escapes to cooler areas before attempting another run.

    Data obtained by these close passes is expected to gain insight into the solar wind (4), composed of various components which can travel outwards at very high velocities, and interfere with satellites and power grids on earth.

    Quoting again from Stuart Bale (1) :

    "We saw the conditions change completely," he told reporters. "Inside the corona, the Sun's magnetic field grew much stronger, and it dominated the movement of the particles there. So the spacecraft was surrounded by material that was truly in contact with the Sun."

    end quote

    It seems rather remarkable that the probe could survive the temperature in the corona, estimated at 1,000,000 kelvin (3). The only reason this is possible is that the density of the corona is extremely low, so heat transfer during the passage is not very effective.

    More passes are scheduled, and the closest approach to the photosphere is estimated to be 7,000,000 km, sometime in 2025.


    "Parker Solar Probe makes historic pass through Sun's atmosphere"

    1. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59661827


    "Parker Solar Probe"

    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Solar_Probe


    "Stellar corona"

    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_corona


    "Solar wind"

    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind


    Last edited by Double Helix; December 17th, 2021 at 08:05 PM.
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