NASA’s Parker Solar Probe To Make Closest Approach To Sun

Washington: After 161 days of launch, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has completed its first orbit of the Sun and has now begun the second of 24 planned orbits, which will mark its closest approach to the Sun in April, NASA said on Wednesday.

Launched on August 12 last year, the Parker Solar Probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun till it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles. Throughout its mission, the probe will make six more Venus gravity assists and 24 total passes by the Sun.

In a statement, NASA said the spacecraft completed its first orbit of the Sun, reaching the point in its orbit farthest from our star called aphelion. Parker Solar Probe has now started the second of 24 planned orbits, on track for its second perihelion, or closest approach to the Sun, on April 4, 2019.

“It’s been an illuminating and fascinating first orbit,” said Andy Driesman, Project Manager at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

“We’ve learned a lot about how the spacecraft operates and reacts to the solar environment, and I’m proud to say the team’s projections have been very accurate,” Driesman added.

The four instrument suites of the spacecraft will help scientists b answers to questions regarding the Sun’s fundamental physics viz.  how particles and solar material are accelerated out into space at such high speeds and why the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface below.

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