NASA Successfully Launches Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Sun-chasing Parker Solar Probe successfully launched this morning at 3:31AM. A couple hours later, NASA confirmed that the vessel was healthy. The probe still has a ways to go before it’s conducting scientific studies. “It’ll spend its first week in space deploying its high-gain antenna, the first part of its electric field antennas and its magnetometer,” reports Engadget. “In early September, the probe will start a roughly four-week instrument shakedown to be sure it’s ready for science gathering.” From the report:
The trip to the Sun will take a while. NASA’s probe will pass by Venus a total of seven times (starting in early October) as it uses the planet’s gravity to whip itself ever closer to the star. The spacecraft will make its first close approach in early November, when it will travel 15 million miles from the Sun — inside the Sun’s corona (aka the solar atmosphere). Its closest approach will put it at just 3.8 million miles from the Sun, at which point it should be the fastest-ever human-made object with a speed of 430,000MPH. The first science data should return sometime in December. The New York Times has a neat video explaining how the Parker Solar Probe will touch the Sun. Meanwhile, Fox News has a dialogue-free clip of the actual launch.

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