NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will come within 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometres) of the sun seven times closer than any other spacecraft ever has. The specially shielded Parker Solar Probe will have to endure temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) and solar radiation intensities 475 times higher than we’re used to here on Earth.
If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will end up travelling faster than any craft ever has and it will fly through our star’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. The measurements the probe going to makes there will reveal key insights about our star’s inner workings that have eluded scientists for decades.
It will be gathering a variety of data about the sun’s structure and magnetic and electric fields, as well as the energetic particles cruising near and away from Earth’s star. This information could help researchers solve two long-standing mysteries: How the solar wind is accelerated and why the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than the solar surface.
After Eugene Parker, a pioneering astrophysicist of the University of Chicago, prediction that the sun is outgassing proved to be true NASA was interested in studying our Sun closely. Now that dream meets reality. Parker, who turned 91 in June, became the first living person ever to have a NASA mission named after him.
The observations that will be made by Parker Solar Probe could help solve the coronal-heating and particle-acceleration puzzles, mission scientists have said. It will give us a better idea of how stars tick in general. Hopefully, we might get better at understanding our sun.
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