Preparing for Discovery With NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, Data From First Solar Encounter Received

By  //  December 13, 2018

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Parker Solar Probe completed its first solar encounter phase

The solar wind, the Sun’s outflow of material, along with one-off eruptions of solar material called coronal mass ejections carry the Sun’s magnetic field out through the heliosphere, producing space weather effects on Earth and other worlds. (NASA Image)

(NASA) – Weeks after Parker Solar Probe made the closest-ever approach to a star, the science data from the first solar encounter is just making its way into the hands of the mission’s scientists.

It’s a moment many in the field have been anticipating for years, thinking about what they’ll do with such never-before-seen data, which has the potential to shed new light on the physics of our star, the Sun.

On Dec. 12, 2018, four such researchers gathered at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C., to share what they hope to learn from Parker Solar Probe.

“Heliophysicists have been waiting more than 60 years for a mission like this to be possible,” said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Heliophysics is the study of the Sun and how it affects space near Earth, around other worlds and throughout the solar system.

On Dec. 12, 2018, four such researchers gathered at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C., to share what they hope to learn from Parker Solar Probe. (NASA Image)

“The solar mysteries we want to solve are waiting in the corona.”

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, 2018, Parker Solar Probe completed its first solar encounter phase, speeding through the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — and collecting unprecedented data with four suites of cutting-edge instruments.

Parker Solar Probe is named for Eugene Parker, the physicist who first theorized the existence of the solar wind — the Sun’s constant outpouring of material — in 1958.

“This is the first NASA mission to be named for a living individual,” said Fox.

“Gene Parker’s revolutionary paper predicted the heating and expansion of the corona and solar wind. Now, with Parker Solar Probe we are able to truly understand what drives that constant flow out to the edge of the heliosphere.”

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE ON NASA

This image from Parker Solar Probe’s WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) instrument shows a coronal streamer, seen over the east limb of the Sun on Nov. 8, 2018, at 1:12 a.m. EST. Coronal streamers are structures of solar material within the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, that usually overlie regions of increased solar activity. The fine structure of the streamer is very clear, with at least two rays visible. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun’s surface when this image was taken. The bright object near the center of the image is Mercury, and the dark spots are a result of background correction. (NASA Image)

This video clip shows actual data from NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory Ahead (STEREO-A) spacecraft, along with the location of Parker Solar Probe as it flies through the Sun’s outer atmosphere during its first solar encounter phase in November 2018. Such images will allow us to provide key context for understanding Parker Solar Probe’s observations. (NASA Image)

CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS


Click here to contribute your news or announcements Free