Parker Solar Probe Mission

Recently, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission has entered the solar atmosphere for the first time.

Parker, launched in the year 2018, is the first spacecraft to have passed through the Sun’s upper atmosphere or corona region.

  • Parker is believed to have crossed the critical surface of the Alfven. Alfven is a point that marks the end of the solar atmosphere and the beginning of the solar wind.
  • This mission is part of NASA’s ‘Living with a Star’ program. It is named after a physicist named Eugene Newman Parker. He proposed the concept of how stars release energy.
  • Its purpose is to explore how energy and heat travel through the solar corona. At the same time, it will also explore how solar energy particles move along with the solar wind.
  • It consists of a set of four instruments designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and to image the solar wind.
  • It is using the gravity of Venus for its flyby. It will reach its final orbit by the year 2025 to reach a distance of 3.8 million miles from the surface of the Sun.
  • It uses a carbon-composite shield to withstand temperatures of about 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,377 °C) to protect itself from the sun’s heat.

Some other solar missions: European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, India’s Aditya-L1 mission etc.

Mission Importance:

  • Will help provide deeper insight into the evolution of the Sun and enhance our understanding of the Sun’s corona.
  • Will expand our knowledge about the origin and evolution of solar winds and its effects on the solar system. It will be helpful in getting information about other stars of the universe.
  • Will help improve forecasts of major space weather events or solar eruptions.

Source – The Hindu

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