NASA's Parker Solar Probe has set a new record for becoming the closest human-made object to the Sun, the US space agency announced. "The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles (42.73 million kilometres) from the Sun's surface on Oct. 29, 2018, at about 1:04 pm EDT (1704 GMT)," said a NASA statement.
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"The current record for heliocentric speed is 153,454 miles (246,960 kilometres) per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976." Parker's first close encounter with the Sun is scheduled for October 31. Its final close approach -- coming just 3.83 million miles from the Sun's surface -- is expected in 2024, NASA said.
"The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976."
Its goal is to make a series of 24 flybys past our scorching star. Another record is in sight for the Parker Solar Probe.
What is Parker Solar Probe?
The probe is named after US physicist Eugene Parker, whose early theory of solar winds – supersonic particles being shot out of the sun in all directions – were confirmed by the first space missions after World War II. Parker, now 91 also travelled to NASA ‘s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida to attend the launch of his namesake satellite. The mission, which is coming at a cost of USD 1.5 billion, is aimed to study the sun, and send back scientific data to Earth on its findings.
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The Parker Solar Probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that can endure unprecedented levels of heat, and radiation 500 times that experienced on Earth.
Parker Solar Probe carries the names of 1.1 million people on a memory card mounted on a plaque on the satellite, along with images of Eugene Parker.