The Parker Solar Probe


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The Parker Solar Probe

juny 1, 2017, 4:31 pm

I thought I would start this topic and then stand back and hold Dr. Neutron's cape while he posts here when he finds time. The Solar Probe Plus mission had been renamed to the Parker Solar Probe as is mentioned in the article.

NPR quick take on the topic with some background also.

And perhaps the best link to find out info - the NASA site.

juny 1, 2017, 4:53 pm

Thanks for the shout-out! I missed the renaming ceremony - on vacation visiting my son - but have been keeping up via Facebook posts by my friends/coworkers. And of course all the great news articles.

Here's the spacecraft sitting in the clean room shortly after the top and bottom halves were mated together:

Editat: març 7, 2018, 12:22 pm

març 8, 2018, 9:13 am

Quick update: We're quite a ways through our thermal-vacuum testing at Goddard Space Flight Center. Once that's done, we'll have a review with NASA to see if we're ready to ship to Kennedy Space Center for pre-launch preps!

Here's the spacecraft being set up for thermal-vacuum testing back in January.

març 8, 2018, 8:33 pm

Wow! Really cool! Can't decide if I want my name to fall into the sun or not...

Editat: maig 4, 2018, 11:11 am

Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun ! {Pink Floyd} {saw this live in concert, warning 9 minute song but great, sounds best with headphones unless you are standing 10ft in front of the stage surrounded by four towers of a "quadraphonic" sound system ;-)

Editat: jul. 31, 2018, 2:32 am

An update on the solar probe mission at the NASA site - with some “sun science” that explains what we expect to learn from the probe. Nice graphics !

...Aha, and here is a quote that explains a concept I did not understand well.

“In space, the temperature can be thousands of degrees without providing significant heat to a given object or feeling hot. Why? Temperature measures how fast particles are moving, whereas heat measures the total amount of energy that they transfer. Particles may be moving fast (high temperature), but if there are very few of them, they won’t transfer much energy (low heat). Since space is mostly empty, there are very few particles that can transfer energy to the spacecraft.”

Quote at this link:

jul. 31, 2018, 1:12 pm

We released some new photos today. Here's Parker Solar Probe on the third stage motor inside half the Delta IV fairing.

jul. 31, 2018, 1:14 pm

Transport from the processing facility to the pad was completed last night. This 65 foot stack traveled vertically about 12 miles at 2 miles an hour overnight. It was an impressive sight!

jul. 31, 2018, 3:34 pm

Thank you for the updates.

Editat: jul. 31, 2018, 4:11 pm

>8 drneutron: Neat stuff!! & >7 DugsBooks: That heat value is what we used to call "delta H" while grinding out equations with a slide rule right? {pgmcc this question directed at you as you may have guessed ;-) }

jul. 31, 2018, 4:26 pm

>11 DugsBooks: Slide rule technology was far too new in my time. ;-)

jul. 31, 2018, 4:30 pm

>12 pgmcc: Napier's bones? :-)

jul. 31, 2018, 5:38 pm

>13 bnielsen: You got it in one.

ag. 10, 2018, 9:11 am

One last look before we send it on its way!

ag. 12, 2018, 12:21 am

Good luck on the new launch time !- I am not sure I will be awake for the 3am liftoff.

ag. 12, 2018, 12:45 am

So cool! Er...well, hot!

ag. 12, 2018, 3:01 am

Live stream just starting - hope all goes well

ag. 12, 2018, 12:55 pm

Dropping in to report a successful launch and great flight! Spacecraft is up and running, and things are looking good.

ag. 12, 2018, 1:42 pm

>19 drneutron: Yes! And the launch happened to be at a time where I could watch it (local time a bit later than 9 am).

ag. 12, 2018, 6:55 pm

>19 drneutron: Congrats! And to all of NASA. A huge rocket, the films of the takeoff were really impressive.

ag. 13, 2018, 4:06 am

>21 DugsBooks: Scared me a bit when the boosters ignited and the rocket just stood there for a few seconds in what looked like seething flames :-)

ag. 13, 2018, 4:42 pm

>22 bnielsen: You must be too young to remember the Saturn V launches! Now, they really stood their ground before taking their own sweet time to clear the tower. I remember being gob-smacked by the first Shuttle launch, by how it almost leapt up from the launch pad compared to a 'proper' rocket.

There are videos of most of the launches on YouTube, including e.g.
Saturn V launch,
Shuttle launch,
Parker probe launch,

ag. 13, 2018, 5:20 pm

>23 Cynfelyn:
Wonderful comparative videos. Thank you for posting.

ag. 14, 2018, 2:40 am

>23 Cynfelyn: Thanks, but no. I actually remember the Apollo launches and I've also seen them many times later. They are not as scary since the flames are clearly deflected to avoid hitting the rocket.

Compare that to 0.32 into the Parker probe launch video.where it looks like everything is going up in flames.
Probably just a question of camera angle and modern cameras being more robust and cheaper than the 1969 vintage models. But still it scared me a bit.

Now if we could just have a Saturn V with solid boosters :-) And manufactured by SpaceX, so the rockets returns to the pad after 15 minutes or so for a refill and a windshield wipe.

ag. 14, 2018, 12:07 pm

>23 Cynfelyn: >25 bnielsen: Great videos!, I was wondering if the "exhaust deflection tunnels" at the base of the Saturn V were more robust than those of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket used for the Parker Probe? I vaguely remember watching a documentary video of those huge caverns with an explanation of water used at launch also some time ago. I agree camera angles come in to play no doubt.

ag. 14, 2018, 3:55 pm

From the Planetary Society website:

Not to worry, says United Launch Alliance, the rocket's manufacturer. Orion's launch vehicle is a Delta IV Heavy, a mammoth, three-core rocket normally used to heave classified military satellites into space. Just before the Delta IV ignition sequence starts, valves open that control the flow of liquid hydrogen to the engines. Some of that hydrogen seeps out of the engine bells and lingers around the rocket. When the engines roar to life, the excess hydrogen ignites, creating a fireball that chars the booster cores. Occasionally, the insulation on the booster cores smolders as the rocket lifts off.

The rocket is insulated for protection against this effect, according to United Launch Alliance. There are also sparkler systems under the engine bells to burn off most of the hydrogen. The flare-up can be seen on single-core Delta IV flights as well, but with just one engine, the effect is less dramatic.


ag. 14, 2018, 4:11 pm

>26 DugsBooks: And I was reminded of a scene in Pixars Incredibles where two kids find themselves in a cave used as flame deflection tunnel. I'm also sure that Peter Jackson could get some interesting footage out of using a handheld camera underneath the Delta IV Heavy :-)

Anyway the real thing is quite impressive even seen from a great distance.

The roof of the Vast Assembly Building is perfect.

ag. 15, 2018, 3:13 am

>26 DugsBooks: No claims for accuracy, but in Men in Black 3, Boris the Animal gets burned up in the exhaust deflection tunnel in the Apollo 11 launch, in the clip below at the 2.50:

ag. 15, 2018, 4:33 pm

>28 bnielsen: >29 Cynfelyn: Most likely where my knowledge of exhaust tunnels comes from. ;-)

>27 drneutron: thanks for the actual facts!

ag. 16, 2018, 3:42 am

>27 drneutron: That's cool. No wait, hot :-) Lifting off in a hydrogen fireball. I hope they know what they are doing.

Richard Rhodes: Dark Sun has a story from the making of the Hydrogen Bomb where they light off some hydrogen:

Page 504: When we flared off the extra (hydrogen), the day we were going to leave to get on a ship out there on the Mike site, it was funny. We had two of these dewars sitting there flaring off, couldn't see a thing, just this roaring noise and all there terns flying around. They'd fly along about a hundred feet in the air above you and they'd hit that spot where this invisible hot air was going and whoa, talk about getting your tail feathers singed. That was a real hotfoot.

There's also a nice verse about the inventor of the Dewar bottles:

Sir James Dewar
Is a better man than you are
None of you asses
can liquify gases.

Editat: oct. 29, 2018, 4:30 pm

A NASA Spacecraft Just Broke the Record for Closest Approach to Sun article mentioning some new and upcoming records for the Parker Probe.

Some of the same info at the official Probe sight, with a new url I believe

Editat: oct. 29, 2018, 6:59 pm

>32 DugsBooks:

Wow -- that's impressive! Thanks for posting the link to the article(s).

oct. 30, 2018, 3:05 pm

I’m sitting in the Mission Ops Center waiting for one last telemetry contact before Parker Solar Probe enters the first solar encounter. First perihelion is November 5. Stay tuned to the website for news as we go!

Editat: feb. 19, 2019, 4:28 pm

Trying to check in on the Parker Solar Probe and found none of the above links work anymore. This link is ok:

I read where the probe was on its second trip into a close encounter while orbiting the Sun and wanted to have a look at progress.

feb. 19, 2019, 4:34 pm

Aha, found a recent update, All Systems Go As Parker Solar Probe Begins Second Sun Orbit A quote from the site:

"Like the mission’s first perihelion in November 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s second perihelion in April will bring the spacecraft to a distance of about 15 million miles from the Sun – just over half the previous close solar approach record of about 27 million miles set by Helios 2 in 1976.

The spacecraft’s four instrument suites will help scientists begin to answer outstanding questions about the Sun’s fundamental physics — including how particles and solar material are accelerated out into space at such high speeds and why the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface below."

feb. 20, 2019, 12:20 am

Exciting stuff!

feb. 20, 2019, 8:54 am

>35 DugsBooks: Try

The one that didn’t work is an unsupported NASA site that was previously used for pre-Parker development and concept work.

Parker is currently on the inbound leg of orbit 2 and we’re beginning to load up command sequences and perform checkouts prior to Encounter 2, which starts the last week in March. Next perihelion is April 4.

We’ll also get the next slug of data from Encounter 1 over the next couple of weeks and the scientists will be meeting to plan analysis and publication, so hopefully we’ll see some more results soon!

des. 10, 2019, 3:39 pm

Here is a 58 minute youtube located video posted on Dec. 5th 2019 at the NASA site that evidently summarizes the Parker Solar Probe discoveries so far. It is hosted by Grey Hautaluoma {who has yet to earn his cape}. I have not had time to view the entire video but I have read articles recently about the Parker Probe being the fastest man made object ever and closest to the Sun of course.

des. 13, 2019, 2:34 pm

There's a demo about 25 minutes in of the heat shield material using a blowtorch. I'm the guy getting to see if it works. Of course, I already knew the answer. 😀

oct. 11, 2021, 3:01 pm

"The graphic above marks Parker Solar Probe’s location on Sept. 30. The green lines denote the spacecraft’s path since launch on Aug. 12, 2018; the red loops indicate the probe’s future, progressively closer orbits toward the Sun." click on link below for better graphic

Just checked in on the Parker Solar probe and found it just made a slight course correction to keep "Parker Solar Probe on pace for its next pass by Venus on Oct. 16, when it will use the planet’s gravity to swing toward its tenth close approach to the Sun." {see link}

In a method apparently similar to walking on hot coals barefoot ?{stepping quickly!} the probe will approach its closest point to the sun "while moving faster than 330,000 miles per hour".

oct. 11, 2021, 3:13 pm

Yup. Next Venus flyby is early Saturday morning (about 5:30 AM EST). We did a trajectory correction maneuver to adjust course to the target point for closest Venus approach - an adjustment of about 5 cm/s. Right now, we expect to hit the target point with an uncertainty of less than a kilometer. Tenth perihelion will shift from about 15 solar radii to just less than 13 solar radii (about 9 million miles).

After that, just two more Venus flybys to go!

Editat: oct. 22, 2021, 6:23 pm

>41 DugsBooks: Duh, slipped my mind that the probe HAS to be going VERY quickly to avoid sailing into the Sun. The objective being getting close {I would think relatively easy to do} without being engulfed by the Sun {not so easy to do}!!

nov. 12, 2021, 7:35 pm

>7 DugsBooks: Just reread this fascinating account of how the Probe deals with heat and temperature. Definitely worth the time!

feb. 5, 2023, 5:56 pm

This is the only Science! thread having to do with our Sun, so here is the website of Dr. Skov, a space weather forecaster:

She has a YouTube channel, and is on Twitter as well.

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