Planetary and exoplanetary Astronomy Lunch Seminar (PALS) for 2020-02-24

Series: Planetary and exoplanetary Astronomy Lunch Seminar (PALS)
Date: Monday 24-Feb-2020
Time: 11:15-12:15
Location: ATL 1250
Speaker: Nour Raouafi (JHU/APL)
Title: Parker Solar Probe - Breaking New Boundaries in Space Exploration

Launched on 12 Aug. 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is venturing closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft, mapping the last unvisited regions of the solar system. The spacecraft successfully incorporates technological breakthroughs to attain new science: PSP crossed a technological barrier by protecting sensitive spacecraft and payload components from intense solar photon radiation. Parker is primarily an exploration mission, and the data returned so far is a treasure trove that holds potential for breakthrough discoveries. It is breaking new boundaries of space exploration by flying halfway between Mercury and the Sun. Parker is writing a new chapter of space research by revolutionizing our understanding of this mysterious region by answering long-standing questions that puzzled scientists for decades: how the solar wind plasma is heated and accelerated and solar energetic particles accelerated and transported throughout the heliosphere.

On 4 Feb. 2020, PSP will have completed four of its planned 24 elliptical orbits around the Sun. The first three orbits have the same perihelion (i.e., shortest distance to the Sun) of 25 million kilometers or 35.7 Rsun (Rsun = 1 solar radius = 695,000 km) from the center of the Sun, which occurred on 6 Nov. 2018, 4 Apr. 2019, and 1 Sep. 2019, respectively. The second Venus gravity assist was performed on 26 Dec. 2019, after which the orbit perihelion will decrease to 27.8 Solar Radii. The analyses of science data from the first two orbits show new phenomena and plasma properties not seen before in the solar wind. I will provide an overview of the mission’s status after four solar encounters and the first discoveries as well as the outlook of the mission for the upcoming solar encounters.

For further information contact PALS coordinator Dr. Lori Feaga at or (301)-405-1383.


Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities can be made by calling (301) 405-3001. It would be appreciated if we are notified at least one week in advance.


Directions and information about parking can be found here.

This page was automatically generated on: 28-Jan-2020.