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Parker probe penetrates the solar corona

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The maneuver carried out on April 28 is described in an article published in the Physical review letters (New window) (in English).

This new milestone marks a major milestone for the Parker mission and a giant leap for solar science, said in a statement Thomas Zurbuchen, one of the heads of the mission at NASA.

Just as landing on the Moon allowed scientists to understand how it formed, reaching into the matter the Sun is made of will help scientists uncover vital information about our star and its influence on the system. solar, the statement continued.

The probe is protected by a carbon composite shield a dozen centimeters thick which protects its scientific instruments from a temperature of nearly 1400 degrees Celsius. Inside Parker, the temperature is around 30 degrees.

Images collected by the probe when it was in the solar corona.

Images collected by the probe when it was in the solar corona.

Photo: NASA / Johns Hopkins APL / Naval Research Laboratory

Solar mystery

One of the objectives of the mission is to understand what heats the solar corona. The outermost part of the solar atmosphere is curiously 200 times hotter than the surface of the star. This extreme heat – more than a million degrees Kelvin – cannot therefore be generated by our star since, according to the laws of nature, the further we move away from the heat source, the more the temperature drops.

The crown therefore finds a way to heat itself. We seek to determine the physical processes that allow it.

Scientists also want to better understand the solar wind, these waves of particles ejected into space that can reach Earth and disrupt the power grid or cause satellite failures.

However, this wind originates in the crown of the Sun, precisely where the Parker probe went. The data collected by the probe could make it possible to determine the structure and evolution of the magnetic fields at the origin of both the slow and fast particles of the solar wind.

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