Parker Solar Probe acquired this image – 1st-ever photo taken from inside the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona – on December 8, 2018. The bright streak is a coronal streamer. The bright object near the center is the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury. The dark spots are a result of background correction. Image via NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe.
Parker Solar Probe acquired this image – 1st-ever photo taken from inside the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona – on December 8, 2018. The bright streak is a coronal streamer. The bright object near the center is the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury. The dark spots are a result of background correction. Image via NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe.

NASA released its first images from its Parker Space Probe on Dec. 12, when the probe was closer to the sun than any spacecraft has been before —16.9 million miles from the sun’s surface.

The probe contains Israeli-engineered sensors that help capture these first-ever high-resolution images from within the sun’s corona, according to a story from No Camels, an online Israeli innovation news service.

The first set of data began downlinking to Earth on Dec. 7; a more complete set will be available after the spacecraft undergoes a second flyby in April 2019, the story stated.

According to a story at earthsky.org, NASA’s mission for the probe is to learn the answer to the questions:

  • How is the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, heated to temperatures about 300 times higher than the visible surface below?
    • How is the solar wind accelerated so quickly to the high speeds we observe?
    • How do some of the sun’s most energetic particles rocket away from the sun at more than half the speed of light?

 

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