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Parker Solar Probe

Dangerous electron and protons are not able to penetrate down to Earth's surface but are forced to move around it by the magnetic field. The sun is the source of the solar wind; a flow of gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).

Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth's magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts. This "Space Weather" can change the orbits of satellites and shorten their lifetimes.

Thus the study the solar wind and the sun is must. Therefore in order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, NASA has send Parker Solar Probe to the sun.

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

• Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
• Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
• Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

The spacecraft is designed to endure the harsh environment near the Sun, where the incident solar intensity is approximately 520 times the intensity at Earth orbit, by the use of a solar shadow-shield. The solar shield, at the front of the spacecraft, is made of reinforced carbon-carbon composite.

The Parker Solar Probe mission design uses repeated gravity assists at Venus to incrementally decrease its orbital perihelion to achieve multiple passes of the Sun at approximately 8.5 solar radii, or about 6 million km (3.7 million mi; 0.040 AU).

Practice question:

1. Solar wind from the Sun is generated from

a) Core

b) Radiative zone

c) Corona

d) Chromosphere

Ans: c
Exp: The solar wind is a stream of charged particles released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun, called the corona. This plasma consists of mostly electrons, protons and alpha particles with thermal energy between 1.5 and 10 keV. Embedded within the solar-wind plasma is the interplanetary magnetic field. The solar wind varies in density, temperature and speed over time and over solar latitude and longitude. Its particles can escape the Sun's gravity because of their high energy resulting from the high temperature of the corona, which in turn is a result of the coronal magnetic field.


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