Parker Solar Probe

The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 by NASA. The main objective of the probe is to observe the outer corona of the sun.

What are the key features of Parker Solar Probe?

The Parker Solar Probe travels through the atmosphere of the sun. As of November 2021, Parker Solar Probe is the only spacecraft to travel closest to the sun. The probe used Venus gravity to move its orbit closer to the sun. The closest distance reached by the probe is 3.9 million miles from the sun.

What are the findings of Parker Solar Probe?

In 2021, the solar probe found that the upper atmosphere of the Venus is undergoing changes over a solar cycle. One solar cycle is 11 earth years.

What are the three main science goals of Parker Solar Probe?

  • To trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar wind and solar corona.
  • To determine the dynamics and structure of the magnetic fields and plasma at the sources of solar wind
  • To explore mechanisms that transport and accelerate the energetic particles

What is the main objective of Parker Solar Probe?

The probe aims to trace how heat and energy move through the corona of the sun. Also, it aims to find out what accelerates the solar wind.

Why is it important to study the corona of the sun?

The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. It is the spot where the solar winds originate. The solar wind is a continuous flow of charged particles. These solar winds are unpredictable and they cause disturbances in the magnetic field of the earth. Therefore, it is essential to learn about the corona of the sun. Corona of the sun is the region seen when the moon blocks the sun during total solar eclipse.

What are the recent issues faced by Parker Solar Probe?

In November 2021, the hyper velocity dust impacts on the solar probe increased. This caused plasma explosions on the probe. The probe is the fastest flown spacecraft of NASA. It flies at 720,000 km per hour. This means that even running into a tiny dust triggers explosions. This makes the probe the most sand blasted spacecraft. On an average, it is tuck by hypervelocity dust every 12 seconds. Where do these dust particles come from? The dust particles come from the zodiacal cloud. These dust particles extend through out the solar system They come from the comets and asteroids. These dust grains are 2 to 20 microns in size. As they hot the probe that is moving in high speed, the surface of the probe heats up due to friction. The heat generated is so high that particles vaporise and forms plasma. The plasma is the same state of matter that forms stars. The plasma might explode if a dust particle of more than 10,780 km per hour collides with the probe.

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