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Parker Solar Probe becomes closest spacecraft to Sun

NASA sets new records for closest, fastest solar probe

Parker Solar Probe, shown in this animation, became the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun on Oct. 29, 2018, when it passed within 26.55 million miles of the Sun’s surface.
Parker Solar Probe, shown in this animation, became the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun on Oct. 29, 2018, when it passed within 26.55 million miles of the Sun’s surface. (NASA/JHUAPL)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The NASA spacecraft launched just 78 days ago has become the closest human-made object to reach the sun. 

Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for the closest approach to the Sun passing 26.55 million miles from the Sun's surface on Monday. 

The previous record for the closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.

As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun's surface expected in 2024.

Parker Solar Probe was also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun about 10:54 p.m. Monday.

Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter on Wednesday, continuing to fly closer and closer to the Sun's surface until it reaches its first perihelion — the point closest to the Sun — at about 10:28 p.m. on Sunday.

The spacecraft will face brutal heat and radiation conditions while providing humanity with unprecedentedly close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades.

These observations will add key knowledge to NASA’s efforts to understand the Sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.


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