The probe Parker Solar Probe, which started in 2018, managed to make the first of a series of approaches to the Sun, the star of the solar system of which the Earth is a part, reaching 13 million km from the surface. Although the distance seems remarkable to humans, in universal terms it is almost like having looked ‘into’ the sun.
The spacecraft’s job is to collect particles that dart at thousands of kilometers per hour, and whose activity would be linked to what happens on the Sun’s surface. Parker Solar Probe plunged into the solar corona for the first time last April. the atmosphere surrounding the star. The instruments detected the change in the velocity of the particles, an exact signal that the probe passed beyond the border of the corona. Another goal of the probe is to find data needed to understand because the surface of the Sun has a temperature of six thousand degrees while its atmosphere reaches two million. The profuse technological contribution is very important: building such a resistant probe is something historical.
“One of the purposes of the mission was precisely to end up inside the solar corona; it’s like being in the engine of a jet, the solar wind is the supersonic jet, we wanted to enter the combustion chamber. Measurements of the instruments confirmed that in that area the magnetic field still dominates the solar windHe told Repubblica Marco Velli, NASA JPL astrophysicist, and principal investigator of one of Parker’s instruments.
In 2025, the probe is expected to approach six million kilometers from the solar surface. And in the meantime, to keep her company, she will arrive there European Solar Orbiter. This last probe should stop at an altitude of 42 million km, but being equipped with a telescope it should be able to observe the poles of the Sun for the first time. It has already ‘discovered’ the solar bonfires, grains of light, and has seen and measured a plasma rash.
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