NASA’s Parker Solar Mission Started Out Well
NASA’s epic mission to the sun has started out well, according to NASA’s mission manager and officials.
The NASA’s Parker Solar sun-touching mission has hit flight milestones according to plan. This amazing news was confirmed by Andy Driesman, mission project manager from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
“Parker Solar Probe is operating as designed, and we are progressing through our commissioning activities,” mission project manager Andy Driesman, said in a statement.
“The team – which is monitoring the spacecraft 24 hours a day, seven days a week – is observing nominal data from the systems as we bring them online and prepare Parker Solar Probe for its upcoming initial Venus gravity assist,” he added.
The Parker Solar Probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force station on its historic mission to the Sun at 3:31 a.m. EDT, on August 12, Sunday.
Notching Up Flight Milestones
One of the latest achievements of the Parker Solar probe was the successful deployment of the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna. This antenna will be used to communicate with Earth.
On Day 2 (Aug. 13), the Parker Solar Probe powered up one of its four instrument suites – the one known as the Fields Experiment.
These are just few of the goals of the mission. But the spacecraft is expected to hurdle challenges amid the grueling heat and radiation of the sun’s surface. Its epic journey to the sun includes a close flight to the Sun’s corona, within just 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) of the sun’s surface.
In addition, Parker will complete seven flybys over seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun and its first close encounter with the sun is expected to take place on Nov. 5.
Looking For Answers
The historic Parker ‘touch to the sun’ mission comes with ambitious goals. The mission was set to look for answers to what scientists describe as “the coronal heating problem.”
The Parker Solar Probe will gather a variety of data during these close passes which include studying the sun’s electric and magnetic fields and waves and characterizing the charged particles rocketing away from our star. These observations could help solve some long-standing mysteries about the the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. Scientists are looking for answers why the corona is so much hotter than its surface.
Just three months ago, NASA’s TESS project was launched. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite has found more than 50 possible worlds to study.
In that project, NASA partnered with MIT to alert astronomers around the world so amateurs with the right instruments can assist in screening. NASA predicts the project may discover up to 3,000 bodies some of which may turn out to be planets.