Published: Thu, November 01, 2018
Science | By

NASA spacecraft sets record for closest distance to the sun

NASA spacecraft sets record for closest distance to the sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe, mankind's first mission to "touch" the Sun, has set a new record for closest approach to the sun by a human-made object, the US space agency announced. At about 10:54 p.m. EDT, Parker is expected to surpass the record for heliocentric speed, which is 153,454 miles per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976.

"It's been 78 days since the launch of Solar probe Parker, and now he approached the star closer of all previous spacecraft".

Parker is expected to beat the Helios 2 heliocentric speed record (measured with respect to the Sun) on 29 October at about 10:54 pm EDT (2:54 UTC, 30 October).

In August, the Parker Solar Probe rocketed away from Earth aboard a Delta IV Heavy booster.

The previous record was held by the Helios 2 craft, which was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force station in 1976. Yet, the spacecraft is gradually shrinking its orbit around the sun, with the final objective being 3.83 million miles (6.16 million km) from the surface. And the sun's powerful gravity will eventually accelerate the probe to a top speed of around 430,000 miles per hour (690,000 km/h), NASA officials have said.

The Sun-bound mission is expected to last around seven years, during which the probe will orbit the planet Venus to get closer to the Sun. The space agency reports that the probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object, passing inside the current record of 42.7 million kilometers from the Sun's surface on October 29, 2018, at about 1:04pm ET (17:04 UTC).


The team periodically measures the spacecraft's precise speed and position using NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN.

The first of these two dozen close encounters is just around the corner: It officially begins Wednesday (Oct. 31), with perihelion (closest solar approach) coming on the night of November 5.

To withstand the heat of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, the probe is protected by a special 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield.

The probe will begin its first solar encounter on October 31.

The primary objective of the Parker Solar Probe is to study the solar wind.

Like this: