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NASA just broke 2 world records with its solar probe

The Parker Solar Probe is going even closer to the sun in the coming days
NASA just broke 2 world records with its solar probe

NASA’s trailblazing Parker Solar Probe, on a mission to gather critical information about the Sun, just got closer to the Earth’s nearest star than any other spacecraft before it. And it’s going even closer on Wednesday.

The Probe, which launched in August, passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the sun’s surface on Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Previously, the record was held by the German-American Helios 2, which made the now second-closest solar approach in April 1976.


That Helios 2 spacecraft was also once the fastest-ever, human-made object relative to the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe just smashed that record, too, surpassing 153,454 miles per hour, according to measurements taken through NASA’s Deep Space Network.

The solar probe, protected by an advanced heat shield and other advanced tech, will continue to break its own records on speed and proximity to the sun in the years to come, until it’s ultimately 3.83 million miles from the sun’s surface and achieves a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour by 2024.

“It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” project manager at the applied physics laboratory, Andy Driesman, said in a statement. “It’s a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on Oct. 31.”

On Halloween, the Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter, barreling through extreme heat and radiation to reach its first perihelion, or closest point to the sun, to make up-close observations.

Cover: A Delta IV rocket, carrying the Parker Solar Probe, lifts off from launch complex 37 at the Kennedy Space Center, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Parker Solar Probe is protected by a first-of-its-kind heat shield and other innovative technologies that will provide unprecedented information about the Sun. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)