January 18, 2019

Here’s What Earth Looks Like When You’re Heading to the Sun

28 October 2018, 03:16 | Edward Lowe

The elongated mark toward the bottom of the panel is a lens reflection from the WISPR instrument

Spacecraft Astronomy NASA Parker Solar Probe Space plasmas Plasma physics Sun Unmanned NASA missions FIELDS National Aeronautics and Space Administration imaging United States

The space agency has now released a new image of Earth captured by its Parker Solar Probe on its way to the sun.

The above image zooms in on Earth to reveal a lump on the right side of the planet - which marks the moon.

According to NASA, the Earth image has a slight bulge in close up.

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The Parker probe Solar Probe sent pictures of the Earth from a distance of more than 43 million kilometers!

The image NASA released was captured on September 25 by Parker's Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe, also known as the WISPR instrument.

The $1.5-billion spacecraft is beginning a seven-year mission to study the sun in greater detail than ever before, with scientists hoping that the project will help them understand the incredibly hot corona and how the solar wind, a river of charged particles that flows off the sun, is formed.

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The Parker Solar Probe launched on August 12 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, part of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The inner telescope produced the left-hand image, while the outer telescope produced the image on the right. In this case, it's from the very bright Earthshine.

The images also show objects such as Pleiades, Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, which appear elongated because of reflections on the edge of the detector, according to the USA space agency.

The probe will travel almost 90 million miles, passing within Mercury's orbit to skim through the outer layers of the sun's atmosphere. The heat and radiation it must face on its journey to within 3.8 million miles of the sun's surface will be brutal. "Some high-energy solar particles accelerate to almost half the speed of light, and we don't know why".

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