NASA’s Parker Solar Probe accomplished a milestone on June 27, 2023 – its 16th orbit of the Sun. This included a close approach to the Sun (known as perihelion) on June 22, 2023, where the spacecraft came within 5.3 million miles of the solar surface while moving at 364,610 miles per hour. The spacecraft emerged from the solar flyby healthy and operating normally.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has completed its 16th science orbit, which included a close approach to the Sun (known as perihelion) that brought it within just 5.3 million miles of the solar surface on June 22 while moving at 364,610 miles per hour.
The team will continue monitoring Parker’s progress to determine if any other such maneuvers will be necessary over the next several months as the spacecraft prepares for this flyby, Guo added. The August flyby will be the sixth of seven anticipated flybys of Venus, with Parker using the planet’s gravity to tighten its orbit around the Sun and set up a perihelion within 4.5 million miles from the Sun’s surface.
Parker Solar Probe’s 16th orbit included a perihelion that brought the spacecraft within 5.3 million miles of the Sun. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Mike Yakovlev/Josh Diaz
“The burn performance was spot on, which sets us up well for targeting our next Venus flyby,” said APL’s Nick Pinkine, Parker Solar Probe mission operations manager, adding that the spacecraft emerged from the maneuver and flyby healthy and operating normally.
“Parker has already taught us so much, allowing us to investigate the source of the solar wind and discover more about the magnetic activity within the corona,” said Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at APL. “We’re excited to see what else this mission has to show us as Parker gets even closer to an increasingly more active Sun.”
On August 21, 2023, Parker Solar Probe will swing past Venus for its sixth flyby of the planet. To prepare for a smooth course, the mission team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) applied a small trajectory correction maneuver on June 7, 2023, the first course correction since March 2022. This flyby will be the sixth of seven planned flybys of Venus during Parker’s primary mission.
Parker uses Venus’ gravity to tighten its orbit around the Sun and set up a future perihelion at just 4.5 million miles from the Sun’s surface. As the Sun becomes increasingly active, this perihelion will be especially important to learning more about heliophysics.
Parker Solar Probe was developed as part of NASA’s Living With a Star program to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The Living With a Star program is managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. APL designed, built, and operates the spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA.