NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Celebrates 2 Trips Around Sun on Year 1 Anniversary

Parker Solar Probe’s
WISPR instrument saw the solar wind streaming past during the spacecraft’s
first solar encounter in November 2018.  Credits:
NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe
Ken Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM – 17 August
2019



CAPE
CANAVERAL, FL –
NASA’s Parker Solar
Probe is celebrating the completion of two very productive solar orbit trips around
the sun on the Year 1 anniversary of its launch on Aug. 12, 2018, Earth.  In that same time Earth had made only a
single trip around the Sun.



Parker is now well into its 3rd high
speed orbit around our sun and traveling towards another close solar approach in
less than two weeks – on Sept. 1, 2019.



Here are the details from NASA:


Parker Solar Probe is named for Eugene Parker,
the physicist who first theorized the solar wind — the constant outflow of
particles and magnetic fields from the Sun — in 1958. Parker Solar Probe is the
first NASA mission to be named for a living person.



Video Caption: Nicky Fox, director of
NASA’s Heliophysics Division, reflects on Parker Solar Probe’s first year in
space with Eugene Parker, after whom the mission is named. In 1958, Parker
published the first scientific paper theorizing the existence of the solar
wind, now studied by the spacecraft that bears his name.
  Credits: University of Chicago



In the year since launch, Parker Solar Probe has
collected a host of
scientific data
from two close passes by the Sun.



“We’re very happy,” said Nicky Fox,
director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington,
D.C. “We’ve managed to bring down at least twice as much data as we
originally suspected we’d get from those first two perihelion passes.”



The spacecraft carries four suites of scientific
instruments
to gather data on the particles, solar wind plasma,
electric and magnetic fields, solar radio emission, and structures in the Sun’s
hot outer atmosphere, the corona. This information will help scientists unravel
the physics driving the extreme
temperatures
in the corona — which is counterintuitively hotter than
the solar surface below — and the mechanisms that drive particles
and plasma
out into the solar system.

Video Caption: Parker Solar Probe’s
WISPR instrument saw the solar wind streaming past during the spacecraft’s
first solar encounter in November 2018.  Credits:
NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe’s WISPR instrument captures
images of solar wind structures as they stream out from the Sun, allowing
scientists to connect them with Parker’s in situ measurements from its
other instruments.



This video, which spans Nov. 6-10, 2018, combines
views from both WISPR telescopes during Parker Solar Probe’s first solar
encounter. The Sun is out of frame past the combined image’s left side, so the
solar wind flows from left to right past the view of the telescopes. The bright
structure near the center of the left edge is what’s known as a streamer
—  a relatively dense, slow flow of solar wind coming from the Sun —
originating from near the Sun’s equator.



The video appears to speed up and slow down
throughout the movie because of the ways data is stored at different points in
Parker Solar Probe’s orbit. Near perihelion, the closest approach to the Sun,
the spacecraft stores more images — and more frames for a given section make
the video appear to slow down. These images have been calibrated and processed
to remove background noise.



The Milky Way’s galactic center is visible on
the right side of the video. The planet visible on the left is Mercury. The
thin white streaks in the image are particles of dust passing in front of
WISPR’s cameras.



The mission team is currently in the process of
analyzing data from Parker Solar Probe’s first two orbits, which will be
released to the public in 2019.



“The data we’re seeing from Parker Solar
Probe’s instruments is showing us details about solar structures and processes
that we have never seen before,” said Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project
scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which built and
operates the mission for NASA. “Flying close to the Sun — a very dangerous
environment — is the only way to obtain this data, and the spacecraft is
performing with flying colors.”

…….

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s
Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun and dive into the corona, Sunday, Aug. 12,
2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida. From camera at pad.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The $1.5 Billion mission began with a dazzling
middle-of-the-night blastoff of the mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket in the wee
hours of the morning, Aug. 12 – and delivered the car sized spacecraft to its
intended trajectory towards Venus and the Sun.



The 23-story tall triple barreled United
Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket successfully launched at 3:31 a.m. EDT
Aug. 12 from the Florida Space Coast and put on a brilliant display of fire
power with 2.1 million pounds of thrust spewing forth from the trio of liquid
oxygen/liquid hydrogen RS-68A main engines that quickly turned night into day a
few hours before the natural sunrise under nearly cloud-free skies.


The mission will conduct 7 Venus flyby’s to
set up 24 perihelion close encounters with the sun through 2024. The Venus
flyby’s will
precisely
set its trajectory toward the Sun and slow the probe down instead of speeding
it up. 



Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy
Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight
Facility, Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter
@ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
space topics.
………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events



Ken’s upcoming outreach events:


Aug 30, 7 PM: Skyscrapers
Inc Astronomical Society,
Seagrave Memorial Observatory, 47 Peeptoad
Road, North Scituate, 
Rhode
Island



“Exploring Mars and
the Search for life – 3D” – Learn all about NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover illustrated
with Ken’s custom created Mars rover panoramas from Curiosity, Spriit and
Opportunity and up close clean room and launch pad views. Plus brief presentation
from Space Shuttle seamstress Jean Wright. Free and open to public.


Ken’s Space/Rocket/Mars
imagery for sale to support his outreach

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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