It's been a while since we last heard of the Parker Solar Probe, NASA's spacecraft voted more likely as a piece of molten metal. An upgrade by the space agency suggests that all systems now go to the Sun probe, which has recently started its second of the planned 24 star orbits.
Parker's Solar Probe completed its first orbital journey around the Sun, reaching its drowning point, or is the furthest orbital distance from our star on January 19, 2019, NASA said. He is again traveling toward the target, with the probe expected to reach the next perihelion, the closest point of the Sun along its orbital trajectory, on April 4, 2019.
Parker Solar Probe has reached this important milestone of 161 days on the mission, and it seems like everything is going so far.
"It was an enlightening and fascinating first orbit," said Andy Driesman, project manager of the Parker Solar Probe project, in a statement. "We learned a lot about how the spacecraft operates and reacts to the solar environment, and I am proud to say that the team's projections were very accurate."
The spacecraft is currently transmitting data to Earth using NASA's Deep Space Network, an array of radio antennas and space-based devices designed to support spacecraft missions. So far, the probe has transmitted 17 gigabits of precious scientific data back to Earth, NASA said, but it will not be until April that all the contents of its first stay around the Sun will be received at home. The spacecraft is gathering unprecedented data with its instrument cluster – data that will help scientists learn more about the solar corona, and how stellar material and particles produced by the star move through space at high speeds.
Project scientist Nour Raouafi said the data collected so far suggests "many new things we have not seen before and potential new discoveries." The Parker Solar Probe, he said in a statement, "is fulfilling the promise of the mission of revealing the mysteries of our Sun."
Another important milestone occurred a few weeks before aphelion, when Parker came into full operational status, or Phase E, on New Year's Day. All probe systems are now online and working according to specifications, NASA said.
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Parker's team can now establish their sites in April's perihelion, when the spacecraft will swing through the Sun at a distance of 24.1 million kilometers (15 million miles), setting a new record for a human-built object . On October 29, 2018, Parker set a record of proximity when it reached 42.7 million kilometers (26.5 million miles) from the Sun's surface, breaking the old record of the Helios 2 spacecraft. probe is expected by June 2025, when it will be 6.6 million kilometers (3.83 million miles) from the Sun. In this proximity, Parker will need only 88 days to make a full orbit around the star, and will travel to approximately 430,000 miles per hour – with enough speed to get from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, in a single second.
In preparation for the April perihelion, mission controllers are creating storage space excluding files already transmitted to Earth and sending updated positioning and navigation information, including an automated command sequence that should keep the probe busy for about a month .
Godspeed on his second trip around the Sun, the Probe Parker![NASA]