NASA spacecraft sets record for closest approach to sun

The probe is named in honour of astrophysicist Dr Eugene Parker

It will pass within 15 million miles (24 million km) of the surface of the sun.

This leads us to another of the Parker Solar Probe's records, broken on Monday 29 October at 6:04 p.m GMT/UTC (1:04 p.m. EDT): Closest approach to the sun.

Solar probe Solar Probe Parker approached the Sun at a record close distance.

It also emerged on Monday that the mission set the speed record for spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun, surpassing 153,454 miles per hour (shy of 247,000 km/h) and breaking the record set by Helios 2 back in 1976.

In addition, in the coming days, the probe should set another record, becoming the fastest ship in the history of space exploration.

The Parker Solar Probe mission will analyze the Sun's corona and charged particles that bombard the Earth. After that, the probe will burn up in the sunlight.

Launched in August, Parker is on track to set another record late on Monday night. At that time, NASA expects the spacecraft to come within 3.83 million miles of the Sun's surface. The previous record was set by the German-American Helios 2 probe in April 1976.

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The probe is comparable in size to a small auto and NASA expects it to reach speeds of 430,000 miles per hour. Now it is preparing to encounter the Sun on Wednesday, 31 October.

The Sun-bound mission is expected to last around seven years, during which the probe will orbit the planet Venus to get closer to the Sun.

Starting Wednesday, the probe will begin moving closer and closer to the Sun's surface, until it reaches its first perihelion-the point at which the satellite is nearest to the Sun-around 10:28 p.m. ET on November 5.

"It's a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on October 31", said Andy Driesman, project manager for the probe with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in a statement. Currently, the Parker mission Solar Probe continues, and the device will continue to approach the Sun.

This way, scientists will be able to forecast solar winds or solar storms that are known to create the handsome aurora borealis but also disrupt communications, satellites, or power grids.

To learn as much as it can about the solar winds, Parker needs to get as close as possible to these eruptions.

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