Parker Solar Probe Mission Releases Science Data from Fourth Orbit

Just over a month after Parker Solar Probe marked two action-packed years in space — and hot on the heels of its third Venus flyby and fifth solar orbit — the mission to “touch” the Sun released another trove of data to the public on Sept. 15. 

This latest data captured by the spacecraft’s four instrument suites spans Parker Solar Probe’s fourth orbit around the Sun, including its first two Venus flybys, maneuvers used to bring the spacecraft’s orbit in closer to the Sun.

The public can access the latest data through NASA’s Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) and Solar Data Analysis Center (SDAC), the APL Parker Solar Probe Gateway, and the Science Operation Centers of the four science investigation teams (the University of California, BerkeleyPrinceton UniversityHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and Naval Research Laboratory.) Data from Parker Solar Probe’s first three orbits is also available.

Two years into its journey, Parker Solar Probe has already revealed a complicated, active system swirling near the Sun’s surface. The spacecraft is set to begin its sixth of 24 planned scientific encounters of the Sun in September 2020, with closest approach — called perihelion — on Sept. 27.

As Parker Solar Probe continues its seven-year trip around the Sun, it will eventually travel within 4 million miles of the Sun’s extremely hot surface. The mission’s primary goal is to provide new data on solar activity and the workings of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — which contributes significantly to our ability to forecast major space weather events that impact life on Earth.

By Justyna Surowiec

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab