Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission is the first in history to fly through the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the ‘Corona’. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has already recorded particles and magnetic fields from the Sun’s upper atmosphere, which has a temperature of about two million degrees Fahrenheit. In this article, we will study all about the Parker Solar Probe Mission, Mission’s goals and significance.

This topic is relevant for GS Paper 3 (Science and Technology) and is likely to be asked in the UPSC Prelims as part of Current Affairs.

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About Parker Solar Probe

  • The Parker Solar Probe is a NASA space probe that was launched in 2018 with the purpose of observing the Sun’s outer corona.
  • Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over roughly seven years to progressively push its orbit closer to the sun in order to unravel the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere.
  • The spacecraft will pass through the sun’s atmosphere as near to our star’s surface as 3.9 million miles, far within Mercury’s orbit and more than seven times closer than any previous probe.
  • It will reach the Sun at a distance of 9.86 solar radii and will travel at a speed of 690,000 km/h, or 0.064 percent the speed of light, by 2025.
  • By February 2022, the mission has done the following-
    • Became the first spacecraft to travel through the Sun’s outer atmosphere- ‘Corona’, and sampled particles and magnetic fields there.
    • For the first time in history, it shared images of Venus. The American space agency’s Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) captured images of Venus’s surface, displaying beautiful continents, plains, plateaus, and even a layer of oxygen.

Note- Visit the linked article and know more about the Satellite Launch Vehicle Program, under which Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) are two operational launch vehicles of India.

Objectives of Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe has three distinct scientific goals:

  1. To trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar wind and solar corona.
  2. To determine the dynamics and structure of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  3. To examine strategies for accelerating and transporting energetic particles.

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Significance of the Parker Solar Probe Mission

  • Parker’s discoveries, as well as those of other solar observatories, have direct ramifications for everyone on the planet. Because solar activity has such a large influence on life on Earth, from creating auroras to damaging infrastructure such as satellites, scientists want to understand more about how the sun operates in order to produce better space weather forecasts.
  • The most intense solar flares from the Sun have the ability to disturb the magnetic field of our planet. As a result of this process, communications may be disrupted, satellites may be knocked down, and power grids may experience electrical surges. As a result, scientists try to predict these “storms,” and Parker provides new and essential information to help them.

Learn about Aditya-L1 Mission, ISRO’s first Solar Mission, in the linked article.

Also, read about Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), by clicking the link.

Note – Supplement your preparation for current affairs by following free Daily Video Analysis of The Hindu Newspaper by BYJU’S.

Refer to the links below and know about other important space missions:

Chandrayaan Mission 2 Chandrayaan – 1
Mars Orbiter Mission NASA and Axiom Space – Ax-1 Mission
NISAR Mission NASA’s VIPER Mission


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