At this moment in time, there is a very small craft buzzing around the Sun as a mosquito would be around yourself. The Parker Solar Probe was launched on the 12th of August 2018 and is currently the fastest man-made object to fly around space. The probe has been collecting some fascinating data for scientists during its mission, being able to send amazing pictures back at NASA during its two flybys around the Sun.
The researchers responsible for the design and assembly of the craft have received 22 GB of data after finishing its second flyby on the 6th of May. The data that has been received is twice as many scientists were expecting. No human craft has ever been so close to the Sun before.
This allows the Parker Probe to scan the surface of the star using its 4 instruments. These pick up and analyze particles, magnetic fields, solar winds, and activity relating to hot plasma balls. Parker’s next approach with the Sun will be on August 27 and it will come the closest it has ever been to the star on the 1st of September. It will also visit Venus for a second time in order to get a speed boost for its next orbit.
NASA Receives Surprising Data From Its Parker Solar Probe About The Sun
As you can imagine, space is filled with all sorts of radiation that is quite bad for electrical systems. Not to mention organic life. Well, humans anyway.
So, the Parker Probe has been heavily shielded from the heat and radiation of the Sun that is 475 greater than the Earth’s orbit. To this end, a hexagonal solar shield has been fitted on the craft, on the part that directly faces the Sun. the shielding is 11.4 cm thick and is built from a reinforced carbon-carbon composite.
This material has been built to withstand temperatures of up to 1370 degrees Celsius. When the craft opens communication with Earth its shielding goes down. Because of this, the satellite repositions itself and transmits data in the 8-minute window as quick as possible to avoid damage.