The Parker probe reached yesterday its perihelion, the point of its orbit that brings it closer to the sun. When being placed to only 37 million kilometers of the center of the star, inside the orbit of Mercury, it broke all the records to date, according to has announced the NASA .
The ship began its approach on October 31 and according to the forecast of NASA had to reach the minimum distance to the sun at dawn on November 6, at 04.28 (Peninsular time). At this time, the ship would have passed 24 million kilometers from the surface of the sun at more than 340,000 kilometers per hour, which also represents a speed record. Being so close to the star, the sun’s radiation will have heated its components to over 430 degrees Celsius, but its heat shield is designed to withstand much higher temperatures.
During perihelion, the Parker probe analyzes the material from the outermost layers of the sun, although it will not be able to retransmit its findings for several weeks. At this time it is totally isolated by the interference generated by the intense radio waves emitted by the sun, but its actions are regulated by an autonomous control system.
The measurements of the Parker probe will help to better understand how the solar wind is generated, the particle beams that our star accelerates at very high speeds and that bathe the solar system. Astronomers also hope that they help solve the great mystery of the solar corona: why this part of the sun, more external, reaches temperatures 300 times higher than the surface. In 2025, after the last of its 26 planned orbits, the Parker probe will complete its mission submerging in the solar corona to analyze it directly.