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NASA Probe Successfully Enters Sun’s Corona


Credit: Unsplash

Back in 1961, Tom Glazer informed us that the Sun is a mass of ionized gas, situated about 93 million miles away from Earth. It is impossible for humans to travel to the Sun due to the vast distance, which would deplete supplies before reaching it and the risk of immediate incineration upon close proximity. To address this challenge, NASA set out to achieve the next best thing: sending a probe into the Sun.

The Parker Solar Probe, initially launched in August 2018, has been traversing the Solar System since then, steadily approaching the Sun. This landmark occasion occurred recently when the probe surpassed a boundary no other spacecraft has ever reached. The Sun harbors a strong magnetic field that contains its superheated plasma, maintaining its spherical form. The point where this field starts is called the Alfvén point, and anything crossing this threshold can encounter temperatures reaching up to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the Alfvén point is still approximately 5 million miles away from the Sun itself, it demonstrates the immense heat intensity, making closeness to it a remarkable scientific feat and a testament to the Parker Probe’s design. Even after entering this zone of extreme heat, the probe successfully communicated its status back to NASA mission control.

The probe continues its journey in space, scheduled to revisit the Sun in a couple of years. It is anticipated that during its return in 2023, the probe will approach even closer than its previous encounter.

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