NASA's 1st solar probe results unravel Sun's mysteries

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 6, 2019

They are the first discoveries from the Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018 and has made three circuits around the Sun so far. The goal of the mission is to shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding the sun. The finding also suggests that the solar wind is transporting more energy away from the Sun than previously thought, so the star's rotation might be slowing down more rapidly than expected.

Parker has made several close approaches, and will continue to weave in and out of the sun's corona over it's remaining 6 years on the job.

This image taken from video animation provided by NASA, shows flips in the direction of the magnetic field embedded in the solar wind that flows out from the Sun, as detected by the NASA's Parker Solar Probe's FIELDS instrument. However, the Parker Solar Probe calculated it moves at approximately 35 to 50 kilometers per second.

One of the "really big surprises" was, according to one of the researchers is a sudden increase in solar winds speed, which was surprisingly violent. However, what the PSP found is that the stream of particles sometimes makes quick reversals in the magnetic fields, and then suddenly releases faster-moving jets of particles, making the solar wind close to the Sun extremely turbulent. In 2024, the Parker Solar Probe is expected to have traveled 96 percent of the distance to the Sun. The erratic magnetic behavior could be linked to the solar winds that burst and splutter from the Sun, rather than flowing in a continuous direction. He said that instead of observing the Sun, we can analyze important solar phenomena and find out how they affect the Earth. "Space weather forecasting will need to account for these flows if we are going to be able to predict whether a coronal mass ejection will strike Earth, or astronauts heading to the Moon or Mars", he added.

"We're finding these discrete, powerful waves that wash over the spacecraft, kind of like rogue waves in an ocean", Kasper explained.

Dr Chris Chen, Lecturer in Space Plasma Physics at Queen Mary University of London and co-author of the study, said: "One of the long-standing questions in space physics is where on the Sun the slow solar wind originates from". It was also a way to learn things about the Sun that are only visible up close and personal.

NASA's Parker Characterize voltaic Probe, which has flown closer to the Sun than any spacecraft ever, has beamed abet the principle observations from its shut encounters with the Sun, revealing a "spectacular trove" of data regarding the photo voltaic wind and say climate, reported the U.S. say company.

The probe is named after USA solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker who first developed the theory of solar wind, describing a system of magnetic fields, energetic particles and plasmas that make up the phenomenon.

'This is because the magnetic tension in the corona should force the plasma to rotate as the sun spins'. That's closer than Mercury or any other spacecraft sent to observe the Sun before.

The findings will also help understand the process by which stars are created and evolve, according to the U.S. space agency.

NASA launched the probe a year ago and so far it has made three passes around the sun with 21 more still to come.

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