A NASA probe covered in an advanced carbon heat shell as well as ground-up animal bones has made the landmark achievement of actually“touching” the Sun’s atmosphere earlier this year, according to the space agency.
The tiny Parker Solar Probe traversed the treacherous environment of the star’s upper atmosphere known as the corona and “touched the Sun,” according to a statement by the agency, collecting important data on the solar atmosphere.
“Parker Solar Probe ‘touching the Sun’ is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate admin of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
During the important trek, the probe also collected a trove of images that have since been compiled into a spectacular video that shows an unprecedentedly close look at the Sun:
The Solar Probe can be seen traversing the solar atmosphere known as a pseudostreamer, which are massive ribbon-like structures that can be seen during solar eclipses.
“Passing through the pseudostreamer was like flying into the eye of a storm,” a statement reads on the NASA website. “Inside the pseudostreamer the conditions quieted, particles slowed and the number of switchbacks dropped — a dramatic change from the busy barrage of particles the spacecraft usually encounters in the solar wind.”
As NASA explains, switchbacks are magnetic zig-zag structures in the solar wind that are plentiful within the solar atmosphere. While these were previously believed to be rare occurrences, the Parker probe found that they are rife throughout the solar wind.
“We see evidence of being in the corona from magnetic field data, solar wind data, and visually in white-light images,” said Parker Solar Probe project scientist Nour Raouafi of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
The video’s capture is truly an amazing feat considering that it was blasting through the solar atmosphere at a withering speed of 142 kilometers per second, and scientists are optimistic that it will help us significantly advance our understanding of how the Sun works.
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