NASA solar probe ‘touches’ Sun in ‘fascinatingly exciting’ exploration of corona

NASA Solar Observatory captures solar flares in October

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A solar probe from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially reached the Sun, scientists announced on Tuesday. The announcement, which was made during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, also revealed how the so-called Parker probe flew through the unexplored atmosphere of corona.

Parker, which was launched back in 2018, was reportedly just 8million miles from the centre of the Sun and travelled through the corona three times.

Nature, a London-based scientific journal, said the director of NASA’s heliophysics division Nicola Fox described the moment as when “humanity has touched the Sun”.

Writing on Twitter, NASA said: “Our #ParkerSolarProbe has touched the Sun!

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“For the first time in history, a spacecraft has flown through the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.”

The solar probe is said to have flown through corona back in April.

However, scientists said there was a delay to the announcement after it took a few months to compile the data and several additional months to obtain full confirmation.

Nour Raouafi, a project scientist with Johns Hopkins University, lauded the exploration as a “fascinatingly exciting” moment.

Mr Raouafi also said the corona appeared dustier than anticipated.

Justin Kaspar from the University of Michigan also told reporters: “The first and most dramatic time we were below for about five hours … Now you might think five hours, that doesn’t sound big.”

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The Parker probe continued to make visits into corona in August and November.

It will keep drawing closer to the sun and exploring the corona until its final orbit in 2025.

The latest findings were unveiled by the American Physical Society.

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