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Successful Entry of NASA Probe into the Sun’s Corona


Successful Entry of NASA Probe into the Sun’s Corona

Credit: Unsplash

It was emphasized by Tom Glazer back in 1961 (although I am inclined towards the rendition by They Might Be Giants) that the Sun is predominantly composed of ionized gas, and its perceived small size is attributed to its distance of approximately 93 million miles from Earth. A manned mission to the Sun is unfeasible due to the vast distance which would deplete essential supplies before reaching anywhere near it, and the imminent combustion risk upon approach. Hence, NASA has been endeavoring towards a viable alternative by launching a probe towards the sun.

Launched initially in August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has spent the entirety of its journey leisurely traversing the Solar System, gradually nearing the Sun itself. This week marked a historic milestone as the probe surpassed a boundary no other man-made spacecraft had conquered before. The Sun harbors a robust magnetic field that retains its scorching plasma within its somewhat spherical form. The boundary defining this field is denoted as the Alfvén point, and once breached, the entity can be subject to temperatures reaching up to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit.

To elucidate, the Alfvén point remains roughly 5 million miles distant from the Sun itself, exemplifying the incomprehensible intensity of its heat. Achieving such proximity stands as a remarkable scientific feat, illustrating the exceptional construction of the Parker Probe. Despite venturing into the heart of extreme heat, the probe’s instruments managed to effectively transmit its status back to NASA’s mission control.

The probe continues its celestial voyage, poised to revisit the Sun in a couple of years. Predictions indicate that during its return in 2023, it will approach even closer than its previous encounter.

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