Solar Probe Takes Never-Before-Seen Up-Close Look of Sun
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The Parker Solar Probe has sent to earth a clear image of plasma flowing from the sun during its rendezvous with the center of our Solar System.
The image has amazed NASA scientists who now expect more treasures from the robotic spacecraft mission.
While the solar approach of the probe took place on November 8, NASA only recently received the mission’s first data. And one of the first images they received – a “coronal streamer” – surpassed all their expectations. Taken by the probe’s powerful camera when it was about 16.9 million miles from our star’s surface, the picture clearly shows the sun’s corona extending thousands of miles into outer space. The spacecraft also captured a bright object near the center of the image, which the scientists said was the planet Jupiter, RT reported.
“What we are looking at now is completely brand new,” Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University said Wednesday after researchers gathered in Washington for the meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “Nobody looked at this before.”
In addition to releasing the image of the corona, NASA also shared a data clip recorded by the space-based observatory, STEREO-A, showing the location of Parker Solar Probe as it flies through the sun’s outer atmosphere.
Scientists hope for more discoveries in the information they’ve begun receiving after the solar probe started transmitting data back to Earth on December 7. “We don't know what to expect so close to the Sun until we get the data, and we’ll probably see some new phenomena,” Raouafi said. “Parker is an exploration mission — the potential for new discoveries is huge.”
The US space agency launched the $1.5 billion mission back in August to find answers that have puzzled scientists about the sun for decades. Over the next seven years, NASA hopes to learn more about the life cycle of stars, as well as the energy patterns of heat and radiation the sun emits. Parker Solar Probe will orbit the center of the Solar System at an average distance of only 4 million miles and will use its revolutionary heat shield to withstand 10,000F (5,500C) temperatures emitted by the star’s photosphere.