Sometimes in space, even when you’re millions of kilometers from anything, you’re still being watched. Or at least that’s the case for the Parker Solar Probe, which completed the 11th perihelion of its 24 perihelion journey on February 25th. While the probe was speeding past the Sun, it was being watched by over 40 space and ground-based telescopes.Continue reading “40 Telescopes Watched the Sun as the Parker Solar Probe Made its Most Recent Flyby”
The Parker Solar Probe’s mission is to study the Sun. But the spacecraft’s instruments have nabbed some pretty impressive data on Venus, as it uses the planet for gravity assists in its ever-shrinking solar orbit.
Now, the spacecraft has captured visible light images of Venus’ surface, somehow able to peer through the shroud of clouds in the planet’s atmosphere.
This is complete bonus data that wasn’t ever expected.Continue reading “Wow. Parker Solar Probe Took a Picture of the Surface of Venus”
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For the first time ever, a spacecraft has flown through the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The Parker Solar Probe passed through the out portion of the Sun’s corona in April of 2021, passing directly through streamers of solar plasma.
And by the way …. there’s video of what the spacecraft “saw.”Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Flies Through the Sun’s Outer Atmosphere for the First Time”
We’ve covered plenty of the Parker Solar Probe’s exploits here at UT, but it keeps breaking new records almost every month. Now, with its newest flyby, it has gotten closer to the Sun than ever before, breaking its own record from previous flybys.Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Hurtles Past the Sun, Making its Closest Approach so far”
There’s a pretty significant disadvantage to going really fast – if you get hit with anything, even if it is small, it can hurt. So when the fastest artificial object ever – the Parker Solar Probe – gets hit by grains of dust that are a fraction the size of a human hair, they still do damage. The question is how much damage, and could we potentially learn anything from how exactly that damage happens? According to new research from scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB), the answer to the second question is yes, in fact, we can.Continue reading “The Parker Solar Probe is getting pelted by hypervelocity dust. Could they damage spacecraft?”
The Parker Solar Probe has been getting in a lot of extracurricular activity lately. Originally designed to observe the Sun, the probe has been taking full advantage of its path through the solar system. In addition to snapping pictures of comets, the probe has repeatedly focused on Venus, including capturing an image peering underneath the cloud cover of the notoriously hot world. Now a team led by Glyn Collinson of Goddard Space Flight Center found another serendipitous discovery in the data Parker collected during its latest flyby in the summer of 2020 – the probe actually flew through Venus’ upper atmosphere, and that atmosphere appeared different than it was almost 30 years ago.Continue reading “What we’ve Learned About Venus From the Parker Solar Probe”
Last summer, the Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus on its way to fly closer to the Sun. In a bit of a surprise, one of the spacecraft’s cameras, the Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, or WISPR, captured a striking image of the planet’s nightside from 7,693 miles (12380 km) away.
The surprise of the image was that WISPR – a visible light camera – seemingly captured Venus’ surface in infrared light.Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Captured Images of Venus on its way to the Sun”
Comet watchers have enjoying the newly-discovered NEOWISE comet since it was first spotted in March 2020. Now that it’s visible with the naked eye, in dark sky conditions, all kinds of Earthly observers are checking the visitor out.
But NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has another view of the comet, one denied to Earth-bound observers.Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Gives a Unique Perspective on Comet NEOWISE”
On February 10th, 2020, the ESA’s Solar Orbiter (SolO) launched and began making its way towards our Sun. This mission will spend the next seven years investigating the Sun’s uncharted polar regions to learn more about how the Sun works. This information is expected to reveal things that will help astronomers better predict changes in solar activity and “space weather”.
Last week (on Thursday, Feb. 13th), after a challenging post-launch period, the first solar measurements obtained by the SolO mission reached its international science teams back on Earth. This receipt of this data confirmed that the orbiter’s instrument boom deployed successfully shortly after launch and that its magnetometer (a crucial instrument for this mission) is in fine working order.Continue reading “Solar Orbiter is Already Starting to Observe the Sun”
In the coming years, a number of will be sent to space for the purpose of answering some of the enduring questions about the cosmos. One of the most pressing is the effect that solar activity and “space weather” events have on planet Earth. By being able to better-predict these, scientists will be able to create better early-warning systems that could prevent damage to Earth’s electrical infrastructure.
This is the purpose of the Solar Orbiter (SolO), an ESA-led mission with strong participation by NASA that launched this morning (Monday, Feb. 10th) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the first “medium-class” mission implemented as part of the ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-25 program and will spend the next five years investigating the Sun’s uncharted polar regions to learn more about how the Sun works.Continue reading “The ESA’s Solar Orbiter, a Mission That Will Chart the Unexplored Polar Regions of the Sun, Just Launched!”