At about 10:54 p.m. EDT, Parker Solar Probe surpassed 153,454 miles per hour — as calculated by the mission team — making it the fastest-ever human-made object relative to the Sun. This breaks the record set by the German-American Helios 2 mission in April 1976.
Parker Solar Probe will repeatedly break its own records, achieving a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour in 2024.
More details from NASA:
Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.
In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun.
In 2017, the mission was renamed for Eugene Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars—including our Sun—give off energy. He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon. Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, which is – contrary to what was expected by physics laws — hotter than the surface of the sun itself. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living individual.
Parker can provide significant scientific insight into the next grand minimum, thus we will follow the program and the results on this blog. The first data dump will come in early December.
Parker will plunge toward the sun 24 more times in the next 8 years, breaking many records en route, and provide the scientist an opportunity to observe the next grand minimum up close if we are on the cusp of the Next Grand Minimum. Here’s the timeline.
H/T to Spaceweather.com with more details.
Stay tuned this is going to be an exciting venture into grand minimum science.