Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Surprising 1st Results From NASA's Sun-Skimming Spacecraft
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 years ago on
December 5, 2019

Share

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s sun-skimming spacecraft, the Parker Solar Probe, is surprising scientists with its unprecedented close views of our star.
Scientists released the first results from the mission Wednesday. They observed bursts of energetic particles never seen before on such a small scale as well as switchback-like reversals in the out-flowing solar magnetic field that seem to whip up the solar wind.

“They’re striking and it’s hard to not think that they’re somehow important in the whole problem.” — Stuart Bale of the University of California, Berkeley, who was part of the team
NASA’s Nicola Fox compared this unexpected switchback phenomenon to the cracking of a whip.
“They’re striking and it’s hard to not think that they’re somehow important in the whole problem,” said Stuart Bale of the University of California, Berkeley, who was part of the team.
Researchers said they also finally have evidence of a dust-free zone encircling the sun. Farther out, there’s so much dust from vaporizing comets and asteroids that one of 80 small viewfinders on one instrument was pierced by a grain earlier this year.
“I can’t say that we don’t worry about the spacecraft. I mean, the spacecraft is going through an environment that we’ve never been before,” Fox said.

The First NASA Spacecraft to Be Named After a Person Still Alive

Launched in 2018, Parker has come within 15 million miles of the sun and will get increasingly closer — within 4 million miles — over the next six years. It’s completed three of 24 orbits of the sun, dipping well into the corona, or upper atmosphere. The goal of the mission is to shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding the sun.

“We’re just starting to scratch the surface of this fascinating physics.” — Princeton University’s David McComas, the chief scientist of one of the spacecraft’s instruments
Parker will sweep past Venus on Dec. 26 for the second gravity-assist of the $1.5 billion mission and make its fourth close solar encounter in January.
The findings in the journal Nature were made during a relatively quiet phase of solar activity.
“We’re just starting to scratch the surface of this fascinating physics,” said Princeton University’s David McComas, the chief scientist of one of the spacecraft’s instruments.
As Parker gets even closer to its target, the sun will go through an active phase “so we can expect even more exciting results soon,” University College London’s Daniel Verscharen wrote in an accompanying editorial. Verscharen was not part of the mission.
Over the summer, Fox shared these early results with solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 92, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago for whom the spacecraft is named. He expressed excitement — “wow” — and was keen to be involved.
It’s the first NASA spacecraft to be named after a person still alive. Parker attended its launch last year from Cape Canaveral.

DON'T MISS

Paris Hilton Backs California Bill to Bring More Transparency to Youth Treatment Facilities

DON'T MISS

House to Send Mayorkas Impeachment Articles to the Senate, Forcing a Trial

DON'T MISS

Parker Wins MLB Debut as Nationals Beat Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day

DON'T MISS

Facing a Republican Revolt, House Speaker Johnson Pushes Ahead on US Aid for Ukraine

DON'T MISS

Giants Rally With 3 Runs in 7th to Beat NL-Worst Marlins

DON'T MISS

Ken Holtzman, MLB’s Winningest Jewish Pitcher Who Won 3 World Series With A’s, Dies at 78

DON'T MISS

Ex-Marine Gets 9 Years in Prison for Firebombing California Planned Parenthood Clinic

DON'T MISS

Fresno Coin Gallery Owner Reveals Why Gold & Silver Are Hot Investments

DON'T MISS

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

DON'T MISS

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

UP NEXT

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

Facing a Republican Revolt, House Speaker Johnson Pushes Ahead on US Aid for Ukraine

43 mins ago

Giants Rally With 3 Runs in 7th to Beat NL-Worst Marlins

50 mins ago

Ken Holtzman, MLB’s Winningest Jewish Pitcher Who Won 3 World Series With A’s, Dies at 78

2 hours ago

Ex-Marine Gets 9 Years in Prison for Firebombing California Planned Parenthood Clinic

3 hours ago

Fresno Coin Gallery Owner Reveals Why Gold & Silver Are Hot Investments

3 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

18 hours ago

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

18 hours ago

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

18 hours ago

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

19 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

19 hours ago

Paris Hilton Backs California Bill to Bring More Transparency to Youth Treatment Facilities

SACRAMENTO — Paris Hilton joined California state lawmakers Monday to push for legislation aimed at cracking down on the industry that cares...

3 mins ago

3 mins ago

Paris Hilton Backs California Bill to Bring More Transparency to Youth Treatment Facilities

31 mins ago

House to Send Mayorkas Impeachment Articles to the Senate, Forcing a Trial

41 mins ago

Parker Wins MLB Debut as Nationals Beat Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day

43 mins ago

Facing a Republican Revolt, House Speaker Johnson Pushes Ahead on US Aid for Ukraine

50 mins ago

Giants Rally With 3 Runs in 7th to Beat NL-Worst Marlins

2 hours ago

Ken Holtzman, MLB’s Winningest Jewish Pitcher Who Won 3 World Series With A’s, Dies at 78

3 hours ago

Ex-Marine Gets 9 Years in Prison for Firebombing California Planned Parenthood Clinic

3 hours ago

Fresno Coin Gallery Owner Reveals Why Gold & Silver Are Hot Investments

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend