Nasa’s Parker Solar Probe has completed the first orbit of the sun and begun the second and closest orbit in April.
Launched on August 12, the Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s historic small car-sized probe, will journey steadily closer to the Sun, until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles and will make six more Venus gravity assists and 24 total passes by the Sun.
Now the probe has reached the point in its orbit farthest from our star, called aphelion point and started its next point called Perihelion to achieve.
“It’s been an illuminating and fascinating first orbit,” said Andy Driesman, Project Manager at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory.
“We’ve learned a lot about how the spacecraft operates and reacts to the solar environment, and I’m proud to say the team’s projections have been very accurate,” Driesman added.
The spacecraft has been delivering data from its instruments to Earth via the Deep Space Network, and to date more than 17 gigabits of science data has been downloaded. The full dataset from the first orbit will be downloaded by April.
Like its first perihelion in November 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s second perihelion in April will bring the spacecraft to a distance of about 15 million miles from the Sun — just over half the previous close solar approach record of about 27 million miles set by Helios 2 in 1976.