Nasa says Parker Solar Probe is closer to the Sun than anything before

The spacecraft has still got much further to go

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 30 October 2018 19:05
Nasa releases trailer for space exploration mission Parker Solar Probe

Nasa's Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the Sun than any spacecraft has ever been before.

The probe is currently flying towards the blazing surface of our star as part of a major mission to understand the hidden processes that allow it to provide light and heat to the Earth.

And it has now surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles from the surface, set by the European Helios-2 craft in 1976.

Its mission is only just getting started. The probe will eventually "touch the Sun", as Nasa refers to it, flying right up to its atmosphere.

As it flies through its corona it will pass within 15 million miles of the solar surface.

It will then continue to explore the star, doing 24 close approaches over the next seven years.

Those will take it as close as 3.8 million miles from its surface. At that sort of distance, the heat will be incredibly intense, and the probe has a thick shield that should be able to protect it from the dangers of the Sun while allowing it to explore its surface close up.

When it gets that near, it hopes to look at the mechanisms and processes that power things like the solar wind, and the intense heat that lights up the star.

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