For the first time a NASA spacecraft has entered the Solar’s environment and “touched” a burning corona.
The Parker Solar Probe, launched in 2018, made seven overflights of the sun before plunging into the corona on its eighth overflight on April 28, 2021. It made three trips through the sun’s atmosphere, one of which lasted 5 hours, according to mission scientists reported during a press briefing Tuesday (Dec. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
Upstream of the photo voltaic environment, the common temperature is about 2 million levels Fahrenheit (1 million levels Celsius), which is larger than the solar’s gentle emitting floor of solely 10,000 F (5,500 C). The spacecraft collected atmospheric particles. With a particular machine known as a photo voltaic probe cup.
Powerful solar winds made of streaming plasma and high-energy particles are born in the corona, but are mostly held back by the sun’s magnetic fields, which also restrain bursts of plasma that spurt from the sun’s surface. When solar winds exceed a certain speed and extend just past the sun’s atmosphere, a location known as the Alfvén point, they can break free of their magnetic restraints. However, scientists didn’t know where exactly that point was located. Now, Parker Solar Probe has answered that question. Prior estimates based on remote images of the corona predicted that the Alfvén point would be found approximately 4.3 million to 8.6 million miles (6.9 million to 13.8 million kilometers) from the solar surface. Parker detected those conditions on April 28, at a distance of about 8.1 million miles (13 million km) above the sun, telling researchers that it had entered the sun’s atmosphere for the first time.
Data collected by Parker Solar Probe in the corona reveals the sun as it’s never been seen before, which will help scientists to better understand the forces that generate the enormous quantities of energy powering our sun and other stars.