Web Desk: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission is our way of getting answers to a few burning questions about the sun. The mission is about to do just that, having gotten closer than any other spacecraft in history.
Between October 31 and November 11, the Parker Solar Probe conducted its first encounter, swooping down to just 27.2 million kilometres from the sun. That’s the closest any human craft has ever gotten to the Sun, or any star for that matter. In the process it entered the corona, the sun’s atmosphere, giving us our first images from within.
NASA scientists shared the image at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union this week. It was taken by Parker’s WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) camera on November 8, capturing what’s known as a coronal streamer.
These are bands of solar material that appear in regions with higher solar activity. So, obviously, there are a lot of them within the sun’s atmosphere. There are two visible streamers here and, and if you look closely, that bright spot near the centre is Mercury.