NASA Enters the Solar Atmosphere ?

NASA Enters the Solar Atmosphere ?

NASA is creating the history for the first time, a spacecraft successfully touched sun’s surface. Its Parker Solar Probe has now collected particles and magnetic fields in the Sun’s upper atmosphere, known as the stellar corona.

The new marker is a significant step forward for Parker Solar Probe and a tremendous leap forward for solar science. The scientists will be able to expose the crucial knowledge about our nearest star and its effect on the solar system since understanding and touching the same substance the Sun is composed of.

Touching the Sun with the Parker Solar Probe is a landmark moment for solar research and a genuinely spectacular effort, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. This milestone not only provides us with greater insights into our Sun’s evolution and its effects on our solar system, but what we understand about our own star also teaches us more about stars across the cosmos.

Parker is finding fresh discoveries as it travels closer to the solar surface that earlier spacecraft were too far away to view, including from within the solar wind – the flow of particles from the Sun that may effect us on Earth. Parker observed in 2019 that magnetic zigzag formations in the solar wind, known as switchbacks, are abundant close to the Sun. Parker Solar Probe has now gone close enough to the Sun to pinpoint one location where they originate: the solar surface, halving the distance between it and the Sun since then.

The first cross over through corona – and the promise of many to come – will continue to offer data on processes that are hard to investigate from afar. Parker Solar Probe, flying so close to the Sun, now detects conditions in the magnetically dominated layer of the solar atmosphere – the corona – that we could never detect before, according to Nour Raouafi, Parker project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Magnetic field measurements, solar wind data, and photos show indications of being in the corona. The spacecraft may be seen traveling through coronal structures that can be seen when a complete solar eclipse happens.

Very Closer for the First Time

Parker Solar Probe was initiated in 2018 to investigate the secrets of the Sun by journeying closer to it than any other previous mission. Parker has finally come, three years after its first conception and decades after its prior launch.

The Sun’s surface is not solid unlike moon. It does, however, have a super heated atmosphere composed of solar material held together by gravity and magnetic forces. As growing heat and pressure force that material away from the Sun, gravity and magnetic fields become ineffective at containing it.

In to the Storm

Parker Solar Probe flew into and out of the stellar corona many times throughout the flyby. This demonstrates that the Alfven critical surface is not formed like a spherical shell, as many had assumed. Rather, it features valleys and spikes that cause the surface to wrinkled. Scientists may understand more about how activities on the Sun impact the environment and solar flares by determining where these protrusions line up with solar activity emanating from the planet.

At one point, as Parker Solar Probe approached 15 solar radius (about 6.5 million miles) out from Solar surface, it passed through a structure in the corona known as a pseudo streamer. Massive structures that rise above the Planet’s surface and may be seen from Earth during solar eclipses are known as pseudo-streamers.

For the very first instance, the spacecraft discovered itself in an area where magnetic fields were powerful enough to govern particle movement. These characteristics proved without a shadow of a doubt that the spacecraft had crossed the Alfven crucial surface and reached the solar atmosphere, where magnetic forces control the movement of everything else in the vicinity.

Narrow Down of Switchback Origins

Even before the initial trips into the corona, some unexpected physics was emerging. Parker Solar Probe obtained data on recent sun encounters that pinpointed the origin of zigzag-shaped formations in the solar wind known as switchbacks. The research revealed that one location where switchbacks arise is on the Sun’s visible surface – the photo sphere.

The solar wind is an unceasing headwind of electrons and magnetic forces by the time it hits Earth, 93 million miles distant. The solar wind, however, is organised and uneven as it departs the Sun. The NASA-European Space Agency mission Ulysses passed over the Sun’s poles in the mid-1990’s and detected a number of strange S-shaped bends in the magnetic field lines of the solar wind, which rerouted charged particles on a zig-zag course as they exited the Sun. For decades, astronomers assumed that these sporadic switchbacks were isolated to the Sun’s polar regions.

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