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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe set too close to Venus flyby



NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set on a nearby flyby of Venus that will see the spaceship arrive within 516 miles of the planet’s surface.

The spacecraft, which is almost two years into an epic mission to study the sun, will make its flyby of Venus at 11.22pm EDT on Friday, Space.com reported.

“The spaceship will swing by Venus for its first outbound flyby of the planet. This is when the Parker Solar Probe will perform its third Venus gravity assist, allowing the spacecraft to lose some of its orbital energy and get much closer to the sun on the next orbit, “NASA explains on its Web site.

“Flying at an altitude of about 51

6 miles above Venus’s surface – much lower than the two previous flyovers but still far above Venus’ atmosphere – Parker Solar Probe will also witness a brief 11-minute solar eclipse during the maneuver.”

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“All four instrument suites will be on and collect data on the near Venus environment and the planet’s night side during flyby,” NASA adds.

Artist's impression of NASA's Parker Solar Probe.

Artist’s impression of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe.
(Steve Gribben / NASA / Johns Hopkins APL)

NASA’s $ 1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission has taken humanity closer to the sun than ever before and the spaceship is helping scientists shed new light on the star. The mission was launched in 2018.

Researchers have observed scours of energetic particles that have never been seen before on such a small scale, as well as switch-like reversals in the outflowing solar magnetic field that appear to whip up the solar wind. The unexpected phenomenon has been compared to the crack of a whip.

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Researchers said they finally also have evidence that a dust-free zone surrounds the sun. Further out, there is so much dust from evaporating comets and asteroids that one in 80 small viewers on an instrument was penetrated by a grain.

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To withstand the heat of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, the probe is protected by a special 4.5-inch thick carbon shield.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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