This NASA mission is preparing to get closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft in history.

Parker Solar Probe will be a major milestone in solar exploration, coming closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft before (Europa Press)

Probe NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is preparing to make a historic approach to the Sun, scheduled for December 24, 2024, traveling at a record speed of 195 kilometers per second. In an unprecedented event, the probe will come within just 6.1 million kilometers of the large star, representing the fastest-moving man-made object closest to the Sun.

“We are almost landing on a star,” he said in an interview with the publication BBC Dr. Noor Raouafi is a Parker Project Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

This mission, launched in 2018, aims to further study solar processes and improve space weather forecasts. During its closest approach to the Sun, known as perihelion, the Parker Solar Probe will encounter extreme temperatures of about 1,400°C at the front of the spacecraft.

The Parker Solar Probe will withstand extremely harsh conditions during its approach to the Sun (Sebastian Carrasco/Europa Press)

The study strategy involves a short period of data collection in a solar environment. Protected by a durable heat shield. Science hopes to make significant advances in understanding the solar corona and how it overheats, as well as accelerating the flow of charged particles.

“This takes on a new dimension, especially now that we are thinking about sending women and men to the moon and even establishing a permanent presence on the lunar surface,” Dr. Raouafi said, even comparing the importance of this mission to the 1969 moon landing. and emphasizing its monumental significance to humanity.

Moreover, the implications of this research are fundamental to protecting communications on Earth and the safety of astronauts, especially in future plans for lunar missions. The next year will be the culmination of Parker’s mission; After December, it will not be able to approach the Sun, in part because its trajectory will no longer allow Venus to correct its course.

With the Parker Solar Probe mission, NASA aims to anticipate and mitigate the impact of solar storms on technology and security on Earth (Sebastian Carrasco/Europa Press)

Dr. Nicky Fox, NASA’s chief scientist and former lead scientist for the Parker project, emphasized that the Dec. 24 flyby will allow for extended stays in the solar corona, longer than what has been achieved in past missions. “We don’t know what we’ll find, but we’ll look for waves in the solar wind that are associated with warming,” he said. “I suspect we will experience many different types of waves that will indicate a mixture of processes that people have been arguing about for years,” he said.

The Parker Solar Probe, developed by NASA, is an unprecedented mission in the history of space exploration, the main goal of which is to study the Sun at close range. Launched on August 12, 2018, the spacecraft was designed to get closer to the solar corona than any other spacecraft before to collect valuable data on solar activity and the mechanisms that control the solar wind and solar energetic particles.

Equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, the Parker Solar Probe probes magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and maps the solar wind. The spacecraft uses a carbon composite heat shield that protects it from extreme temperatures and radiation from the sun, allowing it to operate even when it is just 6.16 million kilometers from the solar surface.

Critical data on solar storms will be collected to protect Earth’s technology and astronauts (Bill Ingalls/NASA/REUTERS)

The information collected by the probe helps scientists better understand phenomena such as solar storms, which can have a direct impact on the operation of satellites, communications systems and electrical grids on Earth. In addition, the findings contribute to the study of space weather and provide a clearer understanding of how the Sun influences the space environment of the Solar System.

The mission, named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who proposed the existence of the solar wind in 1958, approached the Sun more times than originally planned, extending its duration and increasing the opportunity to study solar mysteries in detail. The Parker Solar Probe is planned to make several orbits around the Sun, getting closer with each step and sending back valuable data that will change our understanding of the Sun.

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