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Not So Fast: Parker Solar Probe Hasn’t Set the Speed Record Yet

23 Aug 2018, 13:55 UTC
Not So Fast: Parker Solar Probe Hasn’t Set the Speed Record Yet
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CAPE CANAVERAL: There is a lot of buzz around the fact that the Parker Solar Probe will eventually be traveling at 430,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest human-made object. But that speed record won’t happen due to the three stages of the mighty Delta IV Heavy. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate explained that most of the spacecraft’s speed will be from Solar gravity, with the expected 430,000 miles per hour happening on the spacecraft’s closest pass to the sun on December 24, 2024.
This launch streak was photographed by Michael Seeley on Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. ULA’s Delta IV Heavy was chosen as the launch vehicle for this mission because of the extreme speed requirements of the solar probe.
On December 24, 2025, the spacecraft passes within 9.86 Solar Radii of the Sun. That will be the first of the close passes by the Sun. The first pass, on November 5 2018 will be 35.7 Solar Radii from the Sun. “I expect the data on our first pass of the Sun will be the first published papers in Science and Nature.” Zurbuchen explained, noting that Science and Nature is the premier journal for ...

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