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NASA probe in good health after closest-ever approach to Sun

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

NASA's -- mankind's mission to touch the Sun -- is alive and well after its first close encounter with our star's surface.

The probe skimmed by the Sun at just 15 million miles from its surface, breaking the previous record was set by Helios B in 1976.

The manoeuvre exposed the to intense heat and solar in a complex solar wind environment, NASA said in a statement.

"was designed to take care of itself and its precious payload during this close approach, with no control from us on Earth and now we know it succeeded," said Thomas Zurbuchen, of at the agency headquarters in

"Parker is the culmination of six decades of scientific progress. Now, we have realised humanity's first close visit to our star, which will have implications not just here on Earth, but for a deeper understanding of our universe," said Zurbuchen.

Mission controllers at Applied Physics Lab received the status beacon from the on November 7, 2018.

The beacon indicates status "A" -- the best of all four possible status signals, meaning that is operating well with all instruments running and collecting science data and, if there were any minor issues, they were resolved autonomously by the

At its closest approach on November 5, called perihelion, Parker Solar Probe reached a top speed of 213,200 miles per hour, setting a new record for spacecraft speed.

Along with new records for the closest approach to the Sun, Parker Solar Probe will repeatedly break its own speed record as its orbit draws closer to the star and the spacecraft travels faster and faster at perihelion.

At this distance, the intense sunlight heated the Sun-facing side of Parker Solar Probe's heat shield, called the Thermal Protection System, to about 437 degrees Celsius.

This temperature will climb up to 1,371 degrees Celsius as the spacecraft makes closer approaches to the Sun.

Parker Solar Probe's first solar encounter phase began on October 31, and the spacecraft will continue collecting science data through the end of the solar encounter phase on November 11.

It will be several weeks after the end of the solar encounter phase before the science data begins downlinking to Earth.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 08 2018. 15:50 IST