Parker Solar Probe Prepares for New Science, New Records on Fourth Solar Orbit

Posted on 2020-01-23 11:00:40
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe began its fourth solar encounter today at 9:00 am EST, at a distance of about 23.3 million miles from the Sun’s surface. It will reach perihelion, its closest distance to our star, during this orbit on Jan. 29 at about 4:30 am EST.

The fourth perihelion will send the spacecraft within 11.6 million miles of the Sun, closer than its first three perihelia, which were at about 15 million miles from the Sun. The spacecraft’s four instrument suites will acquire data in this new environment, sampling this previously unexplored region around the Sun and potentially revealing new information about the solar wind and atmosphere.

Parker Solar Probe’s first three orbits of the Sun were all approximately the same distance from our star. Following the mission’s second Venus flyby on Dec. 26, 2019, and after one trajectory correction maneuver on Jan. 10, the spacecraft will set new records for distance from the Sun and fastest human-made object during its fourth perihelion; both records are currently held by Parker Solar Probe.

Track Parker Solar Probe's progress during the encounter.

-Geoff Brown, Johns Hopkins APL


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben
High-Res Image