CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona.
The Parker Solar Probe actually flew through the corona in April during the spacecraft's eighth close approach to the sun.
Scientists say it took a few months to get the data back and then several more months to confirm it.
The spacecraft was 8 million miles from the center of the sun when it first crossed the uneven boundary between the solar atmosphere and outgoing solar wind.
"Not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun's evolution and its impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe," said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
The probe will keep drawing ever closer to the sun and diving deeper over the next 3 1/2 years.
“It’s really exciting to see our advanced technologies succeed in taking Parker Solar Probe closer to the Sun than we’ve ever been, and to be able to return such amazing science,” said Joseph Smith, Parker program executive at NASA Headquarters. "We look forward to seeing what else the mission discovers as it ventures even closer in the coming years."
☀️ Our #ParkerSolarProbe has touched the Sun!
For the first time in history, a spacecraft has flown through the Sun's atmosphere, the corona. Here's what it means: https://t.co/JOPdn7GTcv
— NASA (@NASA) December 14, 2021