It became the closest human-made object to the Sun, the US space agency announced Monday. Its goal is make a series of 24 flybys past our scorching star. Parker’s first close encounter with the Sun is scheduled for October 31 and Its final close approach, coming just 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface. is expected in 2024. This is seven times closer than the previous closest spacecraft, Helios 2. At that time, the probe will be traveling at approximately 430,000 mph, setting a new speed record for a manmade object. To withstand the heat of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, the probe is protected by a special 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield.
Parker Solar Probe was named in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker, coiner of the term “solar wind”. The spacecraft systems and scientific instruments are located in the central portion of the shield’s shadow, where direct radiation from the Sun is fully blocked. According to project scientist Nicky Fox, the team describe it as “the most autonomous spacecraft that has ever flown.”