- The spacecraft deployed its high-gain antenna, which it uses to communicate with Earth, a day after lift-off.
- On 13th August the Parker Solar Probe powered up one of its four instrument suites — the one known as the Fields Experiment.
- The probe has been using its thrusters to reduce momentum, an activity designed to stabilize its flight profile, NASA officials said.
The US$1.5 billion mission will make a total of 24 close solar flybys over the next seven years. And six more more Venus gravity assists are coming after the October encounter. These Venus flybys will help sculpt and shrink the Parker Solar Probe's elliptical orbit, helping it get much closer to our star than any human-made object ever has before.
During its final solar flyby the spacecraft will get within just 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometres) of the Sun's surface. The current closest approach record is 27 million miles (43 million km), set by the German-American Helios 2 mission back in 1976.
The Parker Solar Probe will gather a variety of data during these close passes, studying the Sun's electric and magnetic fields and waves and characterizing the charged particles rocketing away from our star, among other things. These observations could help solve some long-standing mysteries — why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than its surface, for example, and how the charged particles that make up the solar wind are accelerated to their high speeds.
As of 1600 GMT on 16th August, the Parker Solar Probe was 2.9 million miles (4.7 million km) from Earth and zooming through space at 39,000 mph (63,000 km/h), NASA officials said.
Image at Top of Page:
A diagram showing the planned path of the Parker Solar Probe's mission.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL