Astonishing! NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to fly through a solar flare | Tech News

Astonishing! NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to fly through a solar flare

NASA’s Parker Solar Flare is expected to fly through a solar flare near the Sun. Will the solar probe survive or perish? Know what NASA has to say.

| Updated on: Sep 12 2022, 17:12 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has been built to withstand the heat from close encounters with the Sun, but this will be going really extreme, even for this probe. (NASA)

The solar activity has been constantly rising these past few weeks due to the Sun nearing the middle of its 11-year solar cycle, which began in December 2019. As the Sun reaches its peak, the frequency of Solar Storms, Solar Flares, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and other solar phenomena are set to rise, according to NASA. Scientists expect solar activity to be at its peak in the year 2025 when the Sun is in the middle of its solar cycle. NASA hopes that its Parker Solar Probe will catch a solar flare in the near future as it completed its 13th close encounter with the Sun on September 6.

In a NASA blog, Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland said, “The Sun has changed completely since we launched Parker Solar Probe during solar minimum when it was very quiet. When the Sun changes, it also changes the environment around it. The activity at this time is way higher than we expected.”

NASA's Parker Solar Probe set to be battered by a solar flare

Even if the Parker Solar Probe flies through a solar flare, it will not get damaged as it was built to withstand the heat from the close encounters with the Sun. In the NASA blog, Doug Rodgers, APL's science operations center coordinator for the mission said, “Parker Solar Probe is built to withstand whatever the Sun can throw at it. Every orbit is different, but the mission is a well-oiled machine at this point.”

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According to NASA, although the Parker Solar Probe has not flown through a solar flare before, its Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) has captured small Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) emitting from the surface of the Sun during its 10th close encounter with the Sun in November last year which has helped in making new discoveries about CMEs.

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First Published Date: 12 Sep, 17:12 IST