Venus Flyby sends Parker Solar Probe on record-breaking flights around the sun

Parker Solar Probe passes Venus

Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe passing by Venus. Recently, the spacecraft performed a close flyby of Venus to prepare itself for a record-setting series of orbits around the sun. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribbin

NASAUse the Parker Solar Probe A Venus The spacecraft is flying in preparation for its next record-setting orbits around the sun, with the aim of studying the sun’s mysteries as part of the “Living with a Star” programme.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passed by Venus on Aug. 21, using the planet’s gravity to guide a record-breaking series of flybys around the sun that begin next month.

Shortly before 8:03 am EDTThe Parker Solar Probe is moving at about 15 miles (more than 24 kilometers) per second, or 54,000 miles (85,000 kilometers) per hour, 2,487 miles (4,003 kilometers) above the surface of Venus as it loops around the planet toward the inner solar system. The mission operations team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, kept in contact with the spacecraft during the flyby of NASA’s Deep Space Network — except for an expected 8 minutes at closest approach, when Venus was between Earth and the planet. Parker – and determined that the spacecraft was on its way and was operating normally.

NASA Parker solar probe concept artist

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe observing the sun. Source: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Comments from the Director of Mission Operations

“Parker Solar Probe is still on track to make its closest flyby yet of the Sun,” said Nick Pinkine, APL’s Parker Solar Probe mission operations manager. “Parker’s success is a tribute to the entire mission team, but I am especially proud of the mission operators and the work they have done over the past five years to ensure the flawless operation of this amazing, history-making spacecraft.”

Parker Mission Operations

Parker Solar Probe mission operations manager Nick Behnken and project manager Helen Winters, left, discuss progress on Parker’s gravity assist flyby of Venus with members of the spacecraft operations team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory on Aug. 21. Source: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Brooke Hammack

The role of gravity helps Venus

Venus’s gravitational aids are necessary to guide the Parker Solar Probe progressively closer to the Sun; The spacecraft relies on the planet to reduce its orbital energy, which in turn allows it to get closer to the sun – since 2018 it has been exploring the origins of the solar wind and revealing the secrets of the solar wind and other properties of the nearby planet. The sun’s environment at its source.

This was the sixth of seven planned Venus gravity assists for the Parker mission. This week’s flyby was an orbital maneuver that applied a velocity change – called “delta-V” – to Parker Solar Probe, reducing its orbital velocity by about 5,932 mph (9,547 kph). This maneuver changed the spacecraft’s orbit and prepared the Parker Solar Probe for the next five close passes of the Sun, the first of which will occur on September 27.

At each close approach (known as perihelion), the Parker Solar Probe will set or match its own speed and distance records when it comes within just 4.5 million miles (7.3 million kilometers) of the sun’s surface, while moving as close as 394,800 miles (635,000 miles) Km per hour.

Command and control Sarah Haftar

Guidance and Control Commander Sarah Hefter of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory monitors the Parker Solar Probe’s orbital flight of Venus at APL’s Parker Mission Operations Center on Aug. 21. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Brooke Hammack

Live with the Star programme

The Parker Solar Probe was developed as part of NASA’s Living With a Star program to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The Living With a Star program is managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. APL was responsible for the design, construction, and operation of the Parker Solar Probe, and also manages its mission on behalf of NASA.

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