It has been a while since we last heard of the Parker solar probe that the NASA probe most likely ended up as a bubble-shaped piece of molten metal. An update of the space agency suggests that all systems for the sun-bound probe, which has recently embarked on its second of 24 planned star orbits, now go.
Parker Solar Probe completed its first orbit around the Sun and reached its aphelion point. That is, it is farthest from our star's orbit on January 19, 2019, NASA reported. It returns to its destination, expecting the probe to reach the next perihelion on its orbital path on April 4, 2019, the nearest point in the sun.
The Parker solar probe reached this important milestone 161 days into the mission, and it seems everything is so swelling.
"It was a revealing and fascinating first orbit," said Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe project manager, in a statement. "We've 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."
The probe is currently transmitting data with the Deep NASA's Space Network, a series of earth-based radio antennas and Earthbound devices designed to support spacecraft missions. To date, the probe has sent 17 gigabits of valuable scientific data back to Earth, NASA said. However, it will not be until April that all the contents of his first stay around the sun will be received at home. The spacecraft collects unprecedented data with its instrument collection – data designed to help scientists learn more about the Sun's corona and how star material and star-born particles move at high speed through space.
Project scientist Nour Raouafi said the data collected to date point to "many new things we have not seen yet, and potential new discoveries." The Parker Solar Probe, he said in the statement, "keeps the mission's promise to reveal the secrets of our Sun."
Another important milestone was its full-blown New Year's Day, a few weeks before the Aphelion began All systems of the probe are now online and function according to specifications, NASA reports.
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The Parker team can now set its locations on the perihelion in April when the probe at a distance of 24.1 million kilometers in the sun, which set a new record for a human-built object. On October 29, 2018, Parker set the record near a uf, when he came within 42.7 million kilometers (26.5 million miles) of the sun's surface, thus destroying the old record of Helios 2 probe. The nearest distance of the probe is expected for June 2025. At this time, it is about 6.16 million kilometers from the sun. Nearby, Parker only needs about 88 days to make a full orbit around the star, and he'll drive about 430,000 miles an hour – fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington in one second.
In preparation for April's perihelion, mission controllers are freeing up space by deleting files already transferred to Earth and sending updated location and navigation information, including an automated command sequence designed to keep the probe busy for about a month.
Godspeed on your second Sun trip, Parker Probe!