NASA's Parker Solar Probe: An Incredible and Fastest Machine Ever Made - Craffic
Credit: NASA

NASA’S Parker Solar Probe is a rather small but undoubtedly incredible machine that has achieved some great milestones in the history of mankind. This probe, which has been manufactured by the Applied Physics Laboratory Maryland, USA recently broke two savage records virtually displacing the previous record holder which also happens to be the same probe.

The Parker Solar Probe abbreviated PSP was launched in 2018 with the objective of making observations of the outer surface of the Sun. The probe makes use of Venus’s Gravity to slowly lessen the distance between itself and the Sun. The probe is expected to go as near as 6000000 km near the Sun’s surface. It will include 7 Venus flybys over the period of 7 years to gradually shrink its elliptical orbit around the Sun.

Earlier in February 2020, Parker Solar Probe two records after traveling at the speed of 244,255 miles per hour and acclaiming the title of the fastest human-made object. It also became the first spacecraft ever to have reached closest to the sun (18.6 million kilometers from the surface of the Sun).

However, this unbelievable machine, Parker Solar Probe, broke its own record recently by attaining a blazing speed of 330,000 miles per hour (532,000 km/h) and shrinking the distance between itself and the sun to  6.5 million miles (10.4 million km). And with this new record-breaking milestone, Parker Solar Probe has once again acclaimed the title of the fastest human-made object and spacecraft to approach the Sun by this much close distance.

The focus of this probe’s orbit is the Sun but it uses Venus’s gravity to maintain its elliptical trajectory. Initially, the probe had to travel a rather large distance and for the same purpose, it required high launch energy. This is why. It was launched using a Delta 4 Heavy Class Launch vehicle.

Parker Solar Probe

The Parker Solar Probe comes under the Heliophysics type mission which includes studying physical interconnections between the Sun and the Solar system.

The mission aims at the following:

  • To find out what process is responsible for the acceleration and transportation of energetic particles.
  • To find out the dynamics of magnetic fields at solar wind sources.
  • To track down the energy flow which heats Sun’s Corona and accelerates the solar wind.

Given below is a list of experiments that will be carried out to accomplish the desired aims:

  1. Electromagnetic fields investigation- Abbreviated as FIELDS, this investigation will take measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio waves, Poynting flux, electron temperature, and absolute plasma density.
  2. WISPR- or the wide-field imager for the solar probe is an instrument that will acquire images of the inner heliosphere and Corona.
  3. SWEAP- Short form for Solar wind electrons alphas and protons, this investigation will count the electrons, protons, and helium ions. It will also measure their properties like density and velocity.

Other investigations include the measurement of electrons, protons and heavy ions.

Till now, the probe has given us data regarding the strength and direction of the Sun’s magnetic field. It also found evidence of the presence of a cosmic dust-free zone at a distance of around 5.6 million kilometers from the sun and it continues to provide such valuable information as it gets closer to Sun’s surface with each succeeding dive.


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