NASA's Parker spacecraft makes 1st close approach to sun - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

NASA's Parker spacecraft makes 1st close approach to sun

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(Ed Whitman/NASA via AP, File). FILE - In this July 6, 2018 file photo, NASA's Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. Parker has made its first close approac... (Ed Whitman/NASA via AP, File). FILE - In this July 6, 2018 file photo, NASA's Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. Parker has made its first close approac...
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By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - A NASA spacecraft has made its first close approach to the sun, just 2 1/2 months after liftoff.

The Parker Solar Probe flew within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of the sun's surface Monday night. Its speed topped 213,000 mph (342,000 kph) relative to the sun, as it penetrated the outer solar atmosphere, or corona.

No spacecraft has ever gotten so close to our star.

NASA won't re-establish contact until Parker is far enough from the sun to avoid radio interference. NASA's Nicola Fox says scientists "can't wait to get the data." The observations could unlock some of the sun's mysteries.

Assuming it survives the harsh solar environment, the spacecraft will make 23 even closer approaches over the next seven years. The next is in April.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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