The Journey of Parker Solar Probe Begins

The Journey of Parker Solar Probe Begins

Parker Solar Probe of NASA began a historic mission on the 12th of August when it was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to explore the nearest star from our planet, the Sun. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carried the probe in the space. This sight was worth watching as the spacecraft made an arc of orange flames into the predawn sky. If there are no hike ups in the flight, this probe will become the fastest spacecraft ever. Another massive achievement of the Parker Solar Probe is that it is the first spacecraft which will touch the Sun.

According to the representatives of NASA, it will make 24 orbits around the star of our solar system before entering the Corona, the outermost part of the solar atmosphere. This will allow the scientists to get some real insights about the working of the Sun. The researchers have been waiting for this precious information for quite so long and they are quite excited about this mission. At the closest approach, the Parker Solar Probe will only be 6 million kilometers away from the surface of the Sun. In case you are wondering that is too far for detailed examination, it is 8 times closer than Mercury and any other spacecraft that has ever studied our star. Jim Green, the Chief Scientist of NASA, referred to their eagerness to know more about the Sun in the following words:

It’s going to be absolutely phenomenal. We’ve been wanting to do this for 60 years, ever since Eugene Parker got up and said, ‘I believe the sun is outgassing.’”

The excitement and delight were quite evident from the reactions of the Mission Scientist for the Parker Solar Probe, Nicky Fox. She was working on this project at the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and her response to this historic launch clearly describes what it means to her. She is quite an intelligent individual with a lot to say on all occasions but she seemed speechless at the time of this launch. She herself acknowledged that by saying,

It was very emotional. I was speechless and I’m not normally speechless.”

The probe is programmed to study the movement of energy and heat through the corona. Similarly, it will explore the reason behind the acceleration of solar wind towards Earth and other planets. The atmosphere was quite thrilling since the time of its launch but the real celebrations began when the Parker Solar Probe informed the authorities that it has reached space safely. It communicated with the scientists on Earth after separating from the third stage of the rocket. Thomas Zurbuchen, an Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate of NASA, expressed his feelings and said,

The spacecraft is power positive and that’s where we want to be. Whenever you’re there, you take a breather and then you start working.”

It was an incredibly satisfying event for one solar scientist, Eugene Parker who turned 91 this year. He was the one who proposed the existence of solar wind, some sixty years ago and faced quite a lot of criticism for that. It was a pleasing moment for him as he watched the probe (named after him) fly towards the Sun. He was present at the Kennedy Space Center of NASA on this occasion and said,

There’s nothing like a rocket launch live.”

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