Springfield Native Among The Researchers Cheering Solar Probe's Achievement

Nov 14, 2018

A groundbreaking spacecraft has also just broken a record.  NASA says the Parker Solar Probe is “alive and well” after skirting by the sun at a distance of 15 million miles…closer than any other craft, including Helios B in 1976.

Artist's rendering of Parker Solar Probe making a tight pass near the sun.
Credit APL/Steve Gribben / NASA/Johns Hopkins

Springfield native Tony Case is on the Parker Solar Probe’s research and development team. He says everyone is “very excited” to see that the spacecraft has performed so well through its first solar encounter.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab received the status beacon from the spacecraft at 4:46 p.m. EST on Nov. 7, 2018. The beacon indicates status "A" — the best of all four possible status signals, meaning that Parker Solar Probe is operating well with all instruments running and collecting science data and, if there were any minor issues, they were resolved autonomously by the spacecraft.
Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Mission control received the probe’s status beacon last Wednesday. It indicated all instruments were running fine and collecting data on the sun…despite the intense heat and radiation.

Case adds that over the next few weeks they’ll learn just how well their instrument performed. If all goes well, they’ll have data on solar wind measurements that has never been collected before.

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