NASA’s Parker Sun probing spacecraft flew by Sun in its closest encounter during it fifth orbit

As opposed to the standard 11-day encounters, the ongoing orbit is the longest fifth observation of the Parker Sun Probe, that started from 9 May 2020.


The Parker Sun Probe, launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), flew by the sun recently in a close encounter. The spacecraft reached the closest point to the sun in its fifth orbit on 7 June 2020, to match its earlier record of going the closest to the sun.

The closest spot that Parker Sun Probe reached recently is called the perihelion when it was about 11.6 million miles away from the sun’s surface. This occurred at about 4.23 am EDT or 1.53 pm IST on June 7 (Sunday). At that time, the probe was travelling at over 393,000 km per hour speed relative to the sun.

 NASA’s Parker Sun probing spacecraft flew by Sun in its closest encounter during it fifth orbit

Parker has made several close approaches, and will continue to weave in and out of the sun's corona over it's remaining 6 years on the job. Image courtesy: NASA Goddard

By reaching till the perihelion, the probe spacecraft managed to touch its own record of being the human-made object that went closest to the sun. The earlier record was made on 29 January during the craft’s fourth orbit.

The sun probe spacecraft began its longest fifth observation till date from 9 May 2020, after having successfully completed four close orbits around the sun. The orbit got activated at a distance of 62.5 million miles away from the sun’s surface and will continue to probe the star till 28 June. The ongoing fifth mission is by far the longest mission of the Parker Sun Probe, as opposed to the standard 11-day encounters.

The Parker Sun Probe was launched on 11 August 2018, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to study the outermost part of the sun's atmosphere, which is called the ‘corona’. It was aimed to study the heat and energy that moves through the corona and find out what accelerates the solar wind that so heavily impacts other planets. In its course of encounters, the spacecraft will go as close as 3.7 million miles of the sun’s surface which is over 8 times closer than Mercury.


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