On January 17th, the Parker solar probe will make its seventh close pass of the sun, coming within 14 million kilometers of its scorching surface. In addition to the Parker solar probe, dozens of other observatories will be trained on the sun at the same time.
Together with these telescopes, unprecedented views of the sun will be obtained, which would aid scientists in solving some prevalent mysteries of our star.
The Parker solar probe will work in tandem with the Solar orbiter
The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018, and it has already had six close encounters with the sun. During its orbit around the sun, the probe will eventually reach within 6 million kilometers of the sun. This distance will give Parker’s heavily shielded instruments a better taste of the plasma and charged particles of the sun’s outer atmosphere—the corona.
Due to Parker’s proximity to the sun, its cameras are unable to take direct picture’s of the sun’s solar surface. The solar orbiter, which will come within 42 million kilometers of the sun, will take the pictures of the sun’s surface. The pictures it will capture will be the highest-resolution pictures of the sun currently in existence.
During Parker’s orbit, the solar orbiter will observe the sun from a vantage point almost opposite to Parker’s view.
Scientists are excited about the information that would be obtained from the space-crafts
“This next orbit is really an amazing one,” says mission project scientist Nour Raouafi of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
At a news briefing of the virtual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, solar physicist Timothy Horbury described the mission of the Parker solar probe and the Solar orbiter as “partially luck.”
Working together, the space-crafts will help scientists understand long-standing puzzles: how the sun creates and controls the solar wind, why solar activity changes over time and how to predict powerful solar outbursts.