Understanding Our Sun

On August 12, 2018 the Parker Solar Probe was launched. The mission of this probe is to investigate activity in the Sun’s corona in order to provide us with information that can help us understand more about the star and Earth’s connection to it. Analyzing the data being sent back will allow scientists to potentially forecast different space-weather events, in addition to studying what makes the corona hotter than the surface, and the effects this has on Earth and the other planets of our Solar System.

Source: NASA – Parker Solar Probe Concept of Operations

The spacecraft will travel closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft ever has, and it was made to tolerate the extreme conditions, such as heat and radiation, that it will face during its journey. The probe has already completed its first orbit as of January 19, 2019, and is expected to orbit the Sun 23 more times. The data that has already been sent back has given scientists clues about things different phenomena that they would’ve never expected. Predictions are great, but it’s always better to get information straight from the source.


Source: NASA – Trajectory of the Parker Solar Probe

You can find more information about the probe and the mission here!

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4 thoughts on “Understanding Our Sun

  1. It’s always so cool to see exactly how scientists get their information about the solar system! In particular, I love learning about the scientific progress that lets us get closer to the sun than ever before, to learn things we couldn’t before. I wonder what new technology allows the parker solar probe to tolerate more heat and radiation than past spacecraft?

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    1. The tech and instruments are protected by a “4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield”. Even so, withstanding temperatures up to around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit is still incomprehensible for me. Especially doing it over 20 times!

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  2. I was just reading about this. I learned that it will approach to within 9.86 solar radii (6.9 million kilometers or 4.3 million miles) from the center of the Sun and by 2025 will travel, at closest approach, as fast as 690,000 km/h (430,000 mph), or 0.064% the speed of light. Also the cost of the project is US$1.5 billion!! These things are expensive.

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    1. Very expensive! That’s not surprising considering all the stress the spacecraft has to endure. The eccentricity of its orbit is closer to 1 as well so the gravity at perihelion has to be insanely strong. Hopefully the mission goes as planned though so we can get more information about our Sun. I have confidence in our scientists and their calculations.

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