NASA’s Parker Solar probe will pass close to the Sun this year in a historic moment for space exploration, which some compare to the moon landing in 1969: the ship will attempt to pass through the Sun’s atmosphere at a speed of 195 kilometers per second. located at a distance of just over 6 million kilometers from the solar surface, the closest we have been to the king star so far.
Reaching the closest distance a man-made object has ever been to the star that dominates our system is a true technological feat: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will achieve it during 2024, which will be separated from the solar surface by a journey equivalent to only 4% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. According to scientists from the US space agency, although the distance is considerable, it will be practically like “landing” on the Sun.
A monumental achievement
During the approach, the probe launched in 2018 will move at a speed of approximately 195 kilometers per second and will approach approximately 6 million kilometers from the solar surface: at that time, it must withstand temperatures of 1371 degrees Celsius. The spacecraft is considered the fastest object built by humans in history: it was designed and built by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
According to an article published in Futurism.com, Solar Parker has already made important approaches to the surface of the Sun in 2021 and 2023, but it will be on the eve of Christmas 2024 when it will make its historic flyby. According to those responsible for the mission, the event is comparable to the moon landing in 1969 in terms of its significance for our civilization. The scientists behind the project consider it as a “monumental achievement for all humanity”.
Greater understanding of our star
According to statements to the BBC cited by Science Alert by Dr. Nicky Fox, scientific director of NASA, “it is not known exactly what we will find at that distance, although we will search waves in the solar wind associated with the heating of the star’s surface,” according to the specialist. And he added that “everything indicates that we will see many different types of waves, which would point to a combination of processes that scientists have been discussing for years.”
It should be noted that when talking about “land” on the Sun This is a metaphorical expression: it is not possible to land on our star as if we were touching a solid mass like Mars, for example. The Sun is a rotating cloud of hydrogen and helium gas, compressed by its own gravity. When this material leaves the corona, or outer atmosphere of the Sun, it becomes solar wind, forming a magnetic bubble around the star.
By getting closer to the surface of the Sun, Solar Parker will be able to obtain unknown data on the sun’s emissions, allowing us to advance our understanding of the phenomena that influence the Sun. space weather and that in many cases could be harmful to the Earth. What is known as the “solar surface” is actually the photosphere or “Light sphere“, which consists of the first layer of the Sun’s atmosphere. It is responsible for emitting most of the visible light spectrum, which allows us to see the Sun from Earth.