The Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that NASA launched in 2018 to study the Sun, has made an incredible advancement. It surpasses the storied SR-71 Blackbird by nearly 180 times as it circles our star at an astounding speed of 635266kmph, making it the fastest object ever created by humans.
Surpassing the speed limit
Imagine travelling through space at such an incredible speed that you could orbit the Earth 15 times in an hour. Only three years had passed since the probe’s previous speed record of 586,863 kph when this amazing feat was accomplished during its 17th orbit around the Sun, according to Business Insider.
The fact that the Parker Solar Probe does not use artificial propulsion makes its accomplishment all the more impressive. Instead, it travels in a carefully calculated orbit around the Sun, spiralling inward as a result of the Sun’s gravity. It will likely reach speeds of about 690,000 kph by 2025, according to NASA.
A Direct Sighting of the Sun
The probe will get close enough to the Sun on its 24th and final orbit to essentially “plunge” into it, giving scientists seven more chances to collect crucial data about our sun. The distance between this spacecraft and the Sun, which is hovering just 7.26 million kilometres above the Sun’s roiling ocean of plasma, is the closest that humanity has ever sent a spacecraft.
The Parker Solar Probe’s mission is essential to improving our knowledge of the Sun’s actions and how they affect our planet. We learn more about the mysteries of the Sun’s energy flow, solar winds, magnetism, and other aspects as well as new knowledge that aids in forecasting and planning for the Sun’s impact on Earth. As it spirals around the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe continues to provide invaluable information after being successful in understanding the mysterious lightning on Venus.