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Thu Nov 8, 2018, 08:42 PM

Parker Solar Probe survives humanity's first close Sun approach

Brittany A. Roston | Nov 8, 2018

The Parker Solar Probe is a spacecraft designed to give humans an unprecedented observation of the Sun. The technology is the result of six decades of innovation, according to the space agency, which designed the probe to take care of some issues autonomously.

The probe set two new records last month, the first involving humanity’s closest approach to the Sun, the second involving its speed: Parker Solar Probe is officially the fastest spacecraft traveling relative to our star. For reference, the spacecraft set that particular “closest approach” record by creeping within 26.55 million miles of the Sun.

That makes the probe’s 15 million mile distance only a couple weeks later all the more impressive. The spacecraft was subjected to intense heat and radiation during its first “closest approach,” something it handled without issue. According to NASA, it received data back from the spacecraft indicating an “A” status, which is the best of four status signals.

At that status, Parker Solar Probe has retained all of its instruments in functioning order and it continues to make scientific observations. If the spacecraft had experienced any issues from its approach, says NASA, it was able to correct them without human intervention.


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