General, Research, Technology

What is the Parker spacecraft for and what record has it set?

At the moment, humanity wants to study howas many planets as possible. But scientific work is being carried out around various stars, the most famous of which, of course, is the Sun. The study of the celestial body is given to scientists with great difficulty, because this cosmic object incandescent to very high temperatures... However, in 2018 the aerospaceNASA equipped the Parker probe with a thermal protection layer and a cooling system to send it towards the Sun. For seven years of operation, the apparatus must make 24 revolutions around the star and collect information about its properties. According to the agency's representatives, on September 27, the probe made its sixth approach to the Sun. He set two records. First, the device approached the star at the maximum distance at the moment. Secondly, it accelerated to a speed that was enormous for man-made spacecraft.

Solar probe "Parker"

Sun temperature equals 5.5 thousand degrees Celsius. Moreover, on its conditional surface there are so-called "sunspots", which are heated to 4.5 thousand degrees.

How do scientists study the sun?

The next achievements of the Parker probe weredescribed on the project website. Its launch took place in August 2018 and within three months it began to fulfill its research mission. With the help of the equipment installed in the apparatus, the researchers intend to reveal several mysteries of the celestial body. For example, they want to identify the parameters of the solar wind - a stream of particles that expire into space at a speed of 1200 kilometers per second. The apparatus also examines its outer layers, which I described in detail in the material about the most common myths about the Sun. Be sure to read this article, but then.

Compared to the Sun, the Parker probe is a grain of sand

To protect the unit from exposure to hightemperatures, engineers equipped it with protection. This is a heat-shielding shell that covers not only the body of the probe itself, but also the sensors and other equipment installed in it. It also has a cooling system inside it, which prevents the probe from failing due to overheating. The device is also affected by the above-mentioned solar wind, so a combination of these measures is necessary to protect against outgoing particles. Judging by the fact that the device still works fine, the engineers did a great job. So far, there is no doubt that the Parker probe will withstand all 7 years of testing.

See also: Why won't the Parker solar probe melt?

Approaching the Sun

Recently, the device made another for itselfachievement - he approached the Sun at 13.5 million kilometers. No one has ever gotten closer to a huge star. In this case, the device moves at a speed of 466,592 kilometers per hour. This is also a record figure, because no spacecraft created on Earth has ever been able to move so fast. This may be a ridiculous achievement for possibly existing alien civilizations, but for us it is a lot. But this is clearly not the limit, because soon the device will clearly develop even greater speed.

As of this writing, Parker's mission is only 29% complete

It is expected that in December 2024 the deviceParker will finally enter the Sun's atmosphere. It will be approximately 6 million kilometers from the conditional surface of the star. Why conditional? Because it has no surface in the usual sense of the word. The sun is 75% hydrogen, 75% helium and 1% other chemical elements. That is, no one will ever be able to land on the surface of the Sun.

Do you know what will happen to the Sun in the future?

NASA representatives said that the device has alreadycollected the information they were interested in about the Sun. But what kind of data we are talking about is still unknown. Most likely, they will share their discoveries a little later. At the moment, we all have the opportunity to find out what discoveries have already been made thanks to the Parker probe. The first details were sent after a few months from the date of launch. My colleague Ilya Khel then wrote about them - you can read, interesting.

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Other solar probes

It is important to note that the study of the Sunit's not just the Parker probe. Recently, the Solar Orbiter was able to approach the star at a distance of 77 million kilometers and take the most detailed photographs in the entire history of observations. You can look at them and find out how other scientists study the Sun in this material. At the same time, it is important to initially understand that these research missions are completely different from each other. Yes, at least because the Parker device does not have a single camera for taking photos.