Launched on August 4, 2018, the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) is designed to study the Sun for 7 years. Placed in an elliptical orbit, with a perihelion less than 0.17 AU and an aphelion at the level of the Venus orbit, NASA’s mission is the mission of all exploits. Equipped with a powerful heat shield protecting the structure from the flow emanating from the Sun and which will raise the temperature up to 1400 K in some moments, the probe has four instruments to study the solar corona.
Indeed, the corona is still very poorly known today. We know almost nothing about the accelerating mechanisms of the flow of particles escaping from the upper atmosphere (the solar wind), and about the origin of the high corona temperatures (1 million degrees K), which are a hundred times higher than those observed on the surface of the star.
A wide-angle coronograph will take three-dimensional images of the corona and the internal heliosphere. The FIELDS instrument will measure electric and magnetic fields, radio wave emissions and plasma waves.
ISIS (Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun) will provide more information on the characteristics of particles in the solar atmosphere and the internal heliosphere that are accelerated to high energies (from 10 keV to 100 MeV).
Finally, the SWEAP (Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons) instrument will study the electrons, protons and helium ions that make up the solar wind.
In April 4, 2019, the probe adventured less than 25 million kilometers from the Sun, travelling at a relative speed of 343,000 km/h, making it the fastest object in human history. In 2023, PSP will be close to the Sun at a distance of only 6 million km.
By installing the Parker Solar module in WinStars, it is possible to view the position of the probe in real time and follow the 24 orbits planned to reveal the secrets of the atmosphere of our star.