STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

NASA probe is now closest ever aircraft to the sun, and it's getting nearer

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has broken the world record for the closest approach to the sun ever achieved by a...

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 12:32 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 12:32 PM

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has broken the world record for the closest approach to the sun ever achieved by a man-made spacecraft -- and it's not stopping yet.

The probe surpassed the previous record of 26.55 million miles from the star's surface on Monday October 29 at around 1:04 pm ET.

Aviation and aerospace industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Celestial bodies and objects

Government organizations - US

NASA

Science

Space and astronomy

Space exploration

Space industry

Spacecraft and satellites

Sun

US federal departments and agencies

US government independent agencies

The previous record was held by the Helios 2 craft, which was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force station in 1976.

The Parker Solar Probe is now expected to continue its approach, passing through the corona, or the sun's outer atmosphere, next week, reaching within 15 million miles of its surface.

It will continue to break its own record over the next seven years, carrying out 24 close approaches, reaching within 3.83 million miles from the sun by 2024.

"It's been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history," Andy Driesman, from the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, said in a statement.

"It's a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on October 31."

The Parker will also beat the world record for the fastest traveling spacecraft relative to the sun. The record was previously held by the Helios 2 in 1976, which reached a heliocentric (or sun-relative) speed of 153,454 miles per hour.

The spacecraft is carrying a number of state-of-the-art instruments, allowing NASA scientists to collect vital data in order to answer fundamental questions about the Earth's closest star.

"We've been studying the Sun for decades, and now we're finally going to go where the action is," Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said ahead of the probe's launch in August.

Nicky Fox, Parker Solar Probe's project scientist, added: "The Sun's energy is always flowing past our world. And even though the solar wind is invisible, we can see it encircling the poles as the aurora, which are beautiful -- but reveal the enormous amount of energy and particles that cascade into our atmosphere. We don't have a strong understanding of the mechanisms that drive that wind toward us, and that's what we're heading out to discover."

Scientists want to answer phenomena which have puzzled researchers for decades, including the causes behind the acceleration of solar winds and geomagnetic storms.

They will also investigate why the sun's corona is significantly hotter, at several million degrees Fahrenheit, than its surface, which remains at around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It's a bit like if you walked away from a campfire and suddenly got much hotter," Fox said.

The Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA aircraft to be named after a living astrophysicist; 91-year-old Eugene Parker, who proposed the notion of solar wind.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42808

Reported Deaths: 664
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9292163
Marion5929108
Washington583877
Umatilla337645
Clackamas317265
Lane241927
Malheur192738
Jackson17076
Deschutes113613
Yamhill100115
Linn81615
Polk65715
Jefferson6059
Morrow5457
Lincoln51713
Union4682
Benton4456
Klamath4173
Douglas3598
Wasco34816
Hood River2771
Columbia2691
Josephine2693
Coos2510
Clatsop2440
Baker1253
Crook1102
Tillamook700
Curry581
Wallowa462
Lake380
Harney340
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 914888

Reported Deaths: 17460
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3020777027
Riverside669931303
San Bernardino633671073
Orange589801454
San Diego55210877
Kern33928416
Fresno30969439
Sacramento25601491
Santa Clara24425392
Alameda23471462
San Joaquin21729489
Contra Costa18763242
Stanislaus17714398
Tulare17590288
Ventura14330165
Imperial12967336
San Francisco12189140
Monterey1141990
San Mateo11198159
Santa Barbara9827122
Merced9531155
Sonoma9494136
Kings826483
Solano744576
Marin7096129
Madera503774
Placer420757
San Luis Obispo417432
Yolo321959
Butte309552
Santa Cruz280825
Napa196616
Shasta195431
Sutter186512
San Benito144215
El Dorado13514
Yuba132310
Mendocino113621
Tehama8928
Lassen7661
Lake69816
Glenn6713
Nevada6238
Humboldt56810
Colusa5516
Calaveras34218
Amador33116
Tuolumne2754
Inyo23115
Siskiyou2050
Del Norte1801
Mono1802
Mariposa792
Plumas700
Modoc360
Trinity270
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
Brookings
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 16°
Grants Pass
Few Clouds
30° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 30°
Klamath Falls
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 16°
Cold morning, warm afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events