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A 'Proud Moment' for History-Making Space Probe

Parker Solar Probe just got closer to the sun than any other spacecraft ever has
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 30, 2018 11:29 AM CDT
The Parker Solar Probe is seen on July 6, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla.   (Ed Whitman/NASA via AP)

(Newser) – NASA's Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever gotten. Parker on Monday surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles set by Helios 2 back in 1976, the AP reports—and it will keep getting closer to the sun until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles of the solar surface. Parker will make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles. "We've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history," Andy Driesman, the project manager for the probe, said in a statement, per Gizmodo. "It's a proud moment for the team."

Motherboard notes that the probe is protected by a Thermal Protection System (TPS) heat shield, which has been tested to endure temps up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also designed to keep the probe's instruments safe from radiation and to help the probe make an easier transition when it heads back to the relative chilliness of deep space. Launched in August, Parker was on track to set another record late Monday night, about to surpass Helios 2's speed record of 153,454 miles per hour, relative to the sun. (Is your name flying close to the sun with Parker?)


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