According to NASA this achievement would help their scientists to discover Important information about the sun and its influence on the solar system.
The Parker Solar Probe, that was launched by NASA has became the first spacecraft to fly through the outer atmosphere of the Sun.
The spacecraft flew through the Sun’s upper atmosphere ‘Corona’ and sampled magnetic fields and particles there, the American Space Agency said on Tuesday.
NASA’s Scientists stated that the Parker Solar Probe achieved the feat on April 28 2021, but they made the official announcement only after analysis of the data confirmed it.
According to Thomas Zurbuchen, touching the the Sun through Parker Solar Probe is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat.”
Thomas Zurbuchen is the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
In its statement, NASA said that the achievement would help scientists discover critical information about the sun and its influence on our solar system.
The probe is now circling closer to the solar surface, making discoveries along the way.
The Parker probe was launched in 2018 to make repeated and increasingly closer passes of the Sun. The spacecraft moves at a stunning speed of over 500,000kmph to enable getting in quickly and getting out quickly to avoid heat damage.
NASA says that while it has sought to get close to the Sun for more than 60 years, the requirement for sending a spacecraft into the over temperatures of over a million degrees Celsius, which is how hot the corona is said to be, has only been now “finally possible with cutting-edge thermal engineering advances that can protect the mission on its dangerous journey”.
But Shouldn’t The Spacecraft Get Reduced To Ashes That Close To The Sun?
The Parker probe uses a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield that ensures that when the front of the spacecraft reaches temperatures of nearly 1,400 degrees Celsius at its closest approach to the Sun, its interior “will remain near room temperature”.
The suite of instruments on board comprises four instruments designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the corona and solar wind.
How Will The Mission Help?
The solar matter that escapes the Sun’s surface and manages to cross the Alfven line carries with it the Sun’s magnetic fields and is known as solar wind — which travels outwards at speeds of a million miles per hour — and is a component of the so-called ‘space weather’ that affects all the planets and space throughout our solar system.
Scientists say that the biggest of these outbursts from the Sun’s surface can travel as far as the Earth, and beyond, in a jiffy and is known to disrupt telecoms and satellites that prop up essential communications systems.
Knowing how these solar winds are created and escape the Sun’s surface can show us strategies to be better prepared against such events.
“Just as landing on the Moon allowed scientists to understand how it was formed, touching the very stuff the Sun is made of will help scientists uncover critical information about our closest star and its influence on the solar system,” NASA said.
NASA said that what the Parker Solar Probe finds inside the corona will allow scientists to fathom mysteries like why “the Sun’s atmosphere is some hundreds of times hotter than its surface”.
But the more practical knowledge will be in the form of clues as to “how solar eruptions accelerate particles to such energies that they can pose a hazard for astronauts and technology in space”.
Knowing this will help in the protection of artificial satellites as well as astronauts, who would face “dangerous radiation exposure during potential human space flight missions exploring the Moon and Mars”.