Less than three months after a sudden departure from Cape Canaveral, NASA's Parker Solar Probe flew 15 miles (24 million kilometers) of sun on Monday for the first mission of $ 1.5 billion.
The sun probe was flying in an autonomous mode without contact with ground controllers, which was on the road that reached the closest point to the sun at 10:28. EST Monday (0328 GMT Tuesday), according to NASA.
Parker Solar Probe circles the sun in an ellipse loop that takes off a perihelion spacecraft – the nearest point on the sun, which took place on Monday – to a distant point between the orbits of Venus and Earth. The spihelion of the spacecraft on Monday reached the position less than half the distance from the sun as Merkur.
"We're going into an environment that is totally unhappy," said Andy Driesman, Project Leader of the Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins University Laboratory for Applied Physics, built and operated by a spacecraft. "The temperatures that we see on spacecraft have never before seen any other spacecraft. The first perihelion we go, we have a very minimal contact. All we can get is a tone."
Spacecraft launching the Cape Canaveral on August 12 launched the United Rapid Alliance Delta 4-Heavy, which propelled Parker Solar Probe into a rapid departure from Earth on its way to Venus. On 3 October, the sun probe flew about 2,400 kilometers on the Venus plane, using the gravity of a planet as a brake, which slowed down its speed enough to bring the sun closer to the spacecraft.
On October 29, the Sondo recorded a record that the human object in the sun approached a human sign that reached the German-American spacecraft Helios 2 in April 1976 at a distance of 26.55 million kilometers (42.7 million kilometers). On the same day, Parker Solar Probe became the fastest spacecraft in comparison with the sun, which exceeded the heliocentric speed of 153,454 km / h (42.6 miles per second, 68.6 kilometers per second).
The spacecraft launched the first phase of the sunset on October 31st and reached the closest point to the sun in its current orbit late Monday and reached the highest speed of 213.200 km / h (59.2 km per second, 95.3 kilometers per second).
Parker Solar Probe is expected to fly through a low material area in the outer outside sun, where temperatures reach 3.6 million degrees Celsius (2 million degrees Celsius), according to the APL statement.
Spacecraft are armored for extreme temperatures that carry a 4.5-inch thick (11.4 centimeters) of carbon composite thermal shield covered with a white ceramic coating. The heat barrier measures about 8 feet (nearly 2.5 meters wide) on the reverse side of the solar probe, retaining most of the vessel components – with the exception of some of its sensors and solar arrays – at a slightly above room temperature.
Exterior thermal protection is expected to reach a temperature of about 820 degrees Celsius (437 degrees Celsius) between the closest approach to the sun, which is considerably lower than the ambient temperature. Low-density particles in the orbit of Parker's solar probes do not pass much of their heat on a spacecraft so they can survive similar conditions, such as how you can lay your hand in the kitchen oven – until you touch the surface.
"We maintain a thermal shield between the body of the spacecraft and the sun," said Betsy Congdon, the leading heat engineer at Parker's Sun Probe at APL. "We designed a spacecraft to be able to do the right thing, no matter what it sees."
Scientists have programmed four Parker solar probes to directly measure the properties of the material in a sunny atmosphere and collect data closer to the sun than ever before. The objectives of Parker's solar probes include the study of the source of the solar wind, the supersonic stream of particles traveling from the sun in each direction, which drives space weather and affects the entire solar system.
Named for Eugene Parker, who correctly predicted the existence of the sun in 1958, Parker Solar Probe will also explore why the sun or corona is much faster than the solar surface.
Regulators can not contact Parker Solar Probe park a few days around perihelion due to disruptions due to solar radio emissions, officials said. Only the basic status tones will be sent from the spacecraft back to Earth to confirm his health.
Parker Solar Probe performs autonomous monitoring software to ensure that temperature-sensitive components do not become too hot, through inputs from temperature sensors to the measuring point where the probe is to be directed, and that the key parts of the spacecraft are kept in the shade heat shield. The solar cells of the probe can also rotate or rotate to stay within thermal borders, all without the intervention of floor controllers.
During Monday's perihelion, Parker Solar Probe ran into about 98 million kilometers (158 million kilometers) from Earth. At this distance, it takes more than 17 minutes for radio signals to travel from spacecraft to Earth and back.
The phase of the meeting ends on November 11. The first scientific data from the first perihelion of Parker's solar probe will be reduced to Earth in early December.
Sunshine on Monday is the first of 24 planned during the probe mission.
Six more Venera flights will spin Proctor Parker Solar closer to the sun, redirect the trajectory of navigation to the nearest sunshine at a distance of 3.83 million kilometers (6.16 million kilometers) in 2024, about 4 percent of the distance of the sun from Earth.
Send an email to the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.