Saturday , September 25 2021

NASA's Parker Spacecraft makes the first close approach to the sun

In this July 6, 2018 file photo, NASA's Parker Solar Probe is in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, FL, after the installation of the heat shield.

Ed Whitman / AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A NASA spacecraft has made its first close approach to the sun, just 2 1/2 months after the liftoff.

Parker Solar Probe flew within 15 million miles (24 million miles) of the sun's surface on Monday night. Its speed exceeded 213,000 mph (342,000 kph) relative to the sun as it penetrated into the outer solar atmosphere or corona.

No spacecraft has ever become so close to our star.

NASA will not resume contact until Parker is far enough away from the sun to avoid radio interference. NASA's Nicola Fox says researchers "can not wait to get data." The observations can unlock some of the mysteries of the sun.

If it is assumed that it survives the tough solar environment, spacecraft will make 23 even closer approaches over the next seven years. Next is in April.

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