NASA has created history with a spacecraft that is reaching for the stars! The space agency has touched the Sun, the closest star to planet Earth. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has flown through the Sun’s upper atmosphere – the corona – and sampled particles and magnetic fields there, informed NASA.
This is a major step for the probe and a giant leap for Solar Science. Just as landing on the Moon gave scientists a better understanding of how it was formed, touching the very stuff that the Sun is made up of will also help scientists uncover a lot about the closest star to our planet and its influence on the solar system.
Parker is making discoveries that other spacecraft did not, from the flow of particles from the Sun, influencing the Earth to solar winds. Earlier, in 2019, Parker had discovered that magnetic zig-zag structures in solar wind called ‘switchbacks’ are plentiful close to the Sun but how they formed had remained a mystery.
“Flying so close to the Sun, Parker Solar Probe now senses conditions in the magnetically dominated layer of the solar atmosphere – the corona – that we never could before,” said Nour Raouafi, the Parker project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
“We see evidence of being in the corona in magnetic field data, solar wind data, and visually in images. We can actually see the spacecraft flying through coronal structures that can be observed during a total solar eclipse,” the scientist added.
“The first passage through the corona – and the promise of more flybys to come – will continue to provide data on phenomena that are impossible to study from afar,” read a NASA report.
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