NASA's Parker Solar Probe completed its first full orbit around the Sun.
Photo credits: Steve Gribben / NASA / Johns Hopkins APL
NASA's Parker Solar Probe Completed The first loop around the sun entered and entered the second of 24 planned orbits.
The probe launched on August 1
The spacecraft has already delivered 17 gigabits of science data from its first orbit. NASA officials said in a statement and will submit their full observations from orbit by April. [NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission in Pictures]
"It was an enlightening and fascinating first orbit," said Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe Project Manager and researcher at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, who built and led the project, in the statement. "We learned a lot about how the spacecraft works and reacts to the solar environment, and I'm proud that the team's projections were very accurate."
"We always said that we do not know what to expect." We have to wait until we look at the data? "Added Nour Raouafi, a probe project scientist who is also at APL. "The data we've received indicates clues to many new things we've never seen before, and possible new discoveries, Parker Solar Probe's mission is to reveal the secrets of our Sun."
The spacecraft's first approach broke distance records; The previous record holder of humanity for an approach to the sun, Helios 2, emerged in 1976 about twice the distance of Parker Solar Probe from the star. Parker also set speed records and broke at 343,112 km / h (213,200 km / h) compared to the sun.
On its second run, the spacecraft flies past at a similar distance, but in future orbits it will break its own records and come closer and closer to the sun. On its last proposed flyby in late 2025, the probe will dip within 6.16 million km (6.16 million km) of the Sun, accelerated by the star's gravity to nearly 430,000 miles per hour (690,000 km / h).
For the time being, the engineers are preparing for the second flyby of the probe. They emptied the data previously transmitted to the earth remotely. They also send updated position and navigation information and about a month of command instructions, NASA officials said in the statement.
During Parker Solar Probe's twenty-four fly-bys, the four instruments will help researchers understand the Sun's internal processes and how it accelerates solar material at high speeds, and what the outer atmosphere of the star called the Corona, so hotter than the sun's surface.