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This Is How Solar Wind Flowing by a Spacecraft Looks Like in Space

Exactly one year ago, the Parker Solar Probe set off from Earth on a mission to circle the Sun for seven years at a distance never before attempted, and collect data. One year and two full orbits around the Sun, the fastest spacecraft ever designed by man started sending back a wealth of data.
SOlar Wind as seen by the Parker Solar Probe 1 photo
Last week we learned NASA is already in possession of some 22 GB of data, and an additional 25 GB should be downloaded by mid-August. As efforts to sip through all this info have begun, the space agency will start releasing valuable details about how the Sun and its activities affect us.

NASA started doing so this week when it posted a GIF-sized clip showing what they call solar wind flowing by the spacecraft. The images were recorded by the ship’s WISPR instrument last year, in November 2018.

According to what humans already know, solar wind passes by our planet at speeds of one million miles per hour (1.6 million kph), posing a serious threat to our planet’s energy grids, should an unexpected surge in activity occur.

How solar wind behaves is in part of what the Parker Solar Probe is trying to understand. The machine is learning how solar wind accelerates, how plasma and magnetic fields behave and how energetic particles are accelerated and moved.

The images released by NASA show wind flowing from left to right past the view of the camera, with the Sun out of frame to the left. Scientists say the bright structure near the center of the left edge is a streamer, a dense, slow flow of solar wind originating from the star’s equator.

To the right, you can see the Milky Way galactic center and the planet Mercury on the left. The specs of white that pass by the camera are according to NASA dust particles.

 
 
 
 
 

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