NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has set a new speed record, becoming the fastest man-made object in history. Traveling at a staggering speed of 394,736 miles per hour (mph), the spacecraft surpassed the speed of lightning and was 200 times faster than a rifle bullet.
This record-breaking achievement occurred during the probe’s 17th swing around the sun on September 27. As it skimmed just 4.51 million miles from the solar surface, it also broke its previous distance record.
The primary objective of the Parker Solar Probe is to study the properties, structure, and behavior of solar winds. The spacecraft, which is currently in good health with all systems operating normally, is managed by a team of physicists, engineers, and support staff at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
Data transmissions from the probe’s most recent encounter are currently being sent back to Earth. This remarkable speed milestone was made possible by a gravity-assist flyby from Venus, which is located around 67 million miles away from the sun. Parker completed its sixth Venus flyby on August 21, covering over 67 million miles in just over a month.
The Parker Solar Probe has faced extreme temperatures and radiation while passing through the sun’s upper atmosphere. By exploring the sun’s corona, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of solar outbursts that can impact Earth.
The mission’s success not only provides valuable insights into the evolution of our sun but also sheds light on its impacts on the entire solar system. With seven more sun-examining orbits planned until the end of 2024, the Parker Solar Probe’s final act will be a curve into the sun’s atmosphere to record solar winds data before vaporizing in the intense heat.
This groundbreaking mission opens up new possibilities for space exploration and reinforces the importance of studying our closest star. The data collected by the Parker Solar Probe will undoubtedly contribute to advancements in our knowledge of the sun and its effects on our planet.
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