NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was launched into space in August 2018 and soon became the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. Equipped with cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, it’s completed three of twenty-four planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. On Dec. 4, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented mission. Read more for a video and additional information.
These new findings reveal information about the behavior of the material as well as particles that speed away from the Sun, enabling scientists to answer fundamental questions about the physics of our star. The information Parker has gathered about how the Sun constantly ejects material and energy will help scientists re-write the models we use to understand and predict the space weather around our planet, thus protecting astronauts and technology in space for future missions.
This first data from Parker reveals our star, the Sun, in new and surprising ways. Observing the Sun up close rather than from a much greater distance is giving us an unprecedented view into important solar phenomena and how they affect us on Earth, and gives us new insights relevant to the understanding of active stars across galaxies. It’s just the beginning of an incredibly exciting time for heliophysics with Parker at the vanguard of new discoveries,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington.