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NASA's Parker Solar Probe Just Smashed Two Records in a Single Day

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Just Smashed Two Records in a Single Day

NASA's Parker Solar Probe hasn't even completed its first historic swing around the Sun, but just this week it broke two space records that have held for over 42 years!

The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976, it said.

Another record is in sight for the Parker Solar Probe.The spaceship is "expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun on October 29 at about 10:54 pm EDT (Tuesday 0254 GMT)", NASA said.

The probe has been launched for just 78 days, according to Andy Driesman, project manager at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Parker Solar Probe's speed and position were calculated using DSN measurements made on October 24, and the team used that information along with known orbital forces to calculate the spacecraft's speed and position from that point on.At its current distance to the Sun, the probe requires 150 days to make a complete orbit. NASA said, "So far 153,454 miles per hour was the record of Heliocentric speed, which Helios achieved in April 1976".

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On Oct. 31, 2018, Parker Solar Probe began its first of 24 solar encounters.

This unmanned spacecraft, built at the cost of 1.5 billion dollars, was launched in August.

The Parker Solar Probe will continue to fly nearer to the surface of the sun, facing intense heat and radiation to deliver new information. The Probe measures its own speed and position, the Deep Space Network or DSN then retrieves that data before sending it to NASA ground control. Perihelion is expected at about 10:28 p.m. EST on November 5. In all, the craft will travel almost 90 million miles, passing within Mercury's orbit and within 3.83 million miles of the sun's atmosphere, which is expected in 2024. Eric Christian, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told UPI last month ahead of the probe's launch.

The Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA aircraft to be named after a living astrophysicist; 91-year-old Eugene Parker, who proposed the notion of solar wind. Its closest approach should bring it within 3.83 million miles of the star, which is why the spacecraft had to be outfitted with such extraordinary protection technology.