Sun has always been the God in my many mythical worship stories and it continues to be the life source that it has been for many years. However, the human inquisitiveness to understand outer space and what lies beyond the surface of the Earth has never really got to the Sun because of its high temperatures. NASA has done it and for the very first time, we can say that humans have successfully reached the Sun.
The Parker Solar Probe by NASA has become the first-ever spacecraft to have flown through the Sun’s upper-most atmosphere which is commonly referred to as the “corona”. Parker Solar Probe touching the Sun is a monumental moment for humanity because it opens the door to scientific discoveries and opportunities to understand the phenomenon of what happens up there on the hot giant. This is truly a remarkable feat achieved by NASA and a big win for solar science.
As mentioned in a report by Engadget, the Solar Probe entered within 6.5 million miles from the Sun’s surface in the region where there are intense magnetic fields dominating the solar conditions.
To make it all simpler, let’s start with corona, what is that? Well, the Sun is made of many layers, just like the Earth and other planets in the Solar System. The superheated atmosphere on the Sun’s surface is called corona which is visible to the human eye from the Earth’s surface, only during a solar eclipse. The layer is bound to the rest of the Sun’s superheated body by intense magnetic and gravitational forces. As mentioned in a report by NASA and made simpler in an article by Engadget, at a certain limit on the Sun, these formed materials are able to escape the intense forces keeping them all together to become a part of the solar wind, permanently breaking the core connection to the Sun. This limit is called the Alfven critical surface.
As per the report by NASA, the Parker Solar Probe entered the Corona multiple times, only to figure out, for the very first time, that the Alfven critical surface is not smooth, as we have been thinking all these years, but consists of spikes and valleys. Inside this layer, the probe even encountered, what the scientists are calling pseudostreamers which are basically huge structures rising above the Sun’s surface, also visible only during a Solar Eclipse.
NASA issued a statement saying that moving into the Sun’s corona was like “flying into the eye of the storm” because of the slowing particles and quieter conditions.