Hey Nineteen! Parker Solar Probe Completes Record-Matching Sun Flyby

Posted on 2024-04-03 17:02:47

NASA's Parker Solar Probe completed its 19th close approach to the Sun on March 30, matching its own distance record by coming about 4.51 million miles (7.26 million kilometers) of the solar surface.

The close approach (known as perihelion) occurred at 2:21 UTC - or 10:21 EDT, March 29 - with Parker Solar Probe moving 394,736 miles per hour (635,266 kilometers per hour) around the Sun, again equaling its own record. The spacecraft checked in on April 2 with mission operators at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland - where the spacecraft was also designed and built - with a beacon tone indicating it was in good health and all systems were operating normally.

The milestone also marked the midway point in the mission's 19th solar encounter, which began March 25 and continues through April 4.

Parker is on track to swing around the Sun from the same distance and at the same speed two more times this year - on June 30 and Sept. 30 - before making the first of its three final, closest approaches on Dec. 24. At that point, with its orbit shaped by the mission's final Venus gravity assist-flyby on Nov. 6, the spacecraft will zoom just 3.8 million miles from the solar surface, moving about 430,000 miles per hour.

Animation tracing the path of Parker Solar Probe along its 19th orbit. Locations of the planets are approximate; spacecraft speed along the traced path is not to scale. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben