1st image from inside sun’s atmosphere

We’ve all seen stunning images of the sun, both from the ground and from telescopes in space. The sun is a magnificent, hot, glowing ball of gas with its enormous solar prominences of hot plasma – much larger than Earth – arcing out into the surrounding blackness. Up to now, all photos of the sun have been taken from a great distant from the sun itself, given the sun’s extreme heat.

But now, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has gone where no spacecraft has gone before, flying much closer to the sun’s surface than any other probe. It has just sent back the first photos ever from inside the sun’s atmosphere. NASA released the photos on December 12, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe acquired the image above – the first photo from inside the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, the part of the sun we see in photos of total solar eclipses – when the craft was only 16.9 million miles (27.2 million km) from the sun’s surface. That sounds like a long distance. Consider that Earth itself is 93 million miles (150 million km) – and the innermost planet Mercury is about 36 million miles (58 million km) – from the sun. The Parker Solar Probe has now come within the sun’s corona or outer atmosphere. Space scientists presented the image during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington D.C.

[Read More]