On August 12, 2018, NASA experts launched the Parker Solar Probe, which will study the outer corona of the Sun and the solar wind, approaching a minimum of 6.2 million km to the star (the Earth is at a distance of 149.6 million km). Gradually approaching the Sun, the probe sets impressive speed records.
On January 29, Parker survived the fourth approach to the Sun, passing its perihelion – the closest point of its orbit around the star. During this rapprochement, Parker developed a record speed and broke his own record, set in November 2018. The speed of the probe increased to 393,044 km / h (109 with a trifle of kilometers per second). Moreover, its distance to the star was as small as possible – only 18.6 million km.
The protective heat shield of the probe warmed up to a record temperature of 612 degrees Celsius. This is 300 degrees more than during the previous three encounters. The probe itself and the equipment on it kept the temperature at 30 degrees. It is expected that in 2024-2025, when the Parker is pressed to the Sun to the maximum, its screen will warm up to 1370 degrees.
Previously, Parker’s top speed was 247,000 km / h (68.6 km / s). For comparison, the approximate speed of light in a vacuum is 300,000 km / s. The previous record holder for speed was the US-German Helios-2, which also revolved around the Sun. In 1976, it was able to accelerate to 252,792 km / h. They develop such speeds due to star gravity.