NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Completes a Record-Setting Swing by the Sun

Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. Credit: NASA

Blazing along at space-record speeds that would get it from Earth to the Moon in under an hour, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its 10th close approach to the Sun on November 21, coming within 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) of the solar surface.

The close approach (known as perihelion), also at a record distance, occurred at 4:25 a.m. EST (8:25 UTC), with Parker Solar Probe moving 364,660 miles per hour (586,864 kilometers per hour). The milestone also marked the midway point in the mission’s 10th solar encounter, which began November 16 and continues through November 26.


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkjns APL/Steve Gribben

The spacecraft entered the encounter in good health, with all systems operating normally. Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to check back in with mission operators at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland – where it was also designed and built – on November 24.

Parker Solar Probe is in the 10th of 24 planned, progressively closer orbits around the Sun. the spacecraft, built and operated at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, launched on August 12, 2018. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

The spacecraft will transmit science data from the encounter – largely covering the properties and structure of the solar wind as well as the dust environment near the Sun – back to Earth from December 23-January 9.

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