November 28, 2023

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Parker Solar Probe: NASA’s vehicle that broke all speed records

Parker Solar Probe: NASA’s vehicle that broke all speed records

The Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which observes the Sun from a short distance, has once again broken the record for the fastest man-made object.

On 17the During its flyby of the sun, NASA’s spacecraft reached a speed of 625,266 kilometers per hour, or 176 kilometers per second, which is 500 times faster than the speed of sound at sea level.

At this speed, the trip from Athens to New York would take 45 seconds, a distance of about 8,000 kilometers.

The new record was set on September 27, but was confirmed only a few days ago through data sent by the mission.

Thus, the Parker Solar Probe broke the previous record of 586.863 kilometers per hour, which it set in November 2021.

It will break the record again in 2024, when it approaches the sun by less than 4 million kilometers.

Parker Solar Probe was the first spacecraft to pass through the solar corona. (NASA GSFC/CIL/Brian Monroe)

Extreme environment

To reach these maximum speeds, the spacecraft periodically passes a short distance from Venus to be accelerated by its gravitational field and reduce the radius of its orbit around the Sun.

Its heat shield protects it from bombardment by sun particles and extreme temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Celsius.

The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 on a seven-year mission to study the solar corona, the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, which becomes visible bare during a total eclipse.

Data from the mission may help astrophysicists solve a major mystery: why the temperature of the corona exceeds one million degrees Celsius, while the surface of the Sun is limited to 5,500 degrees.

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In addition to breaking the speed record and the record for shortest distance from the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe last year became the first mission to pass through a “coronal mass ejection,” or CME, a type of explosion on the Sun’s surface that spews into space. Billions of tons of protons and electrons.

If they collide with Earth, clouds of charged particles could damage power grids, destroy satellites, and endanger the lives of astronauts.