NASA’s spacecraft touches the sun first time. Parker Solar Probe endures temperatures up to 2370F, radiation 500 times more powerful than Earth’s as it enters the star’s atmosphere.

  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was the first spacecraft that ‘touched’ the sun. However, scientists confirmed the discovery today after months of waiting on data. 
  • Launched in 2018,  Parker was built to answer fundamental questions about the solar wind that is released from the corona – the sun’s upper atmosphere
  • In April, the eight-time attempt to launch it from space flew by the corona.
  • According to scientists, it took several months for the data to be returned and then several months to verify.
  • Scientists will be able to better understand how the sun’s energy is generated and transported into space through future coronal explorations.
  • Parker will continue to draw closer and deeper into the corona, until the grand final orbit of 2025 in which he is the last remaining human on the sun.


NASA’s spacecraft, which plunged through the solar atmosphere, known as the corona and passed just 8 million miles from its core, has officially touched the sun.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe battled temperatures of 2370F and radiation 500 times stronger than on Earth as it made its eighth approach to the celestial body, finally passing through its upper atmosphere.

The flight occurred in April but scientists have only just been able to confirm the probe traveled through the corona, after waiting months for the data to arrive back from the spacecraft.   

‘Parker Solar Probe ‘touching the Sun’ is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat,’ said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. 

“This milestone gives us deeper insight into the Sun’s development and the (its?) impacts on our solar systems. However, all that we know about our Sun also makes us aware of stars elsewhere in the universe.

NASA spent $1.5billion on the solar milestone. Now, new research has been added to the Physical Review Letters.

Nour Raouafi from Johns Hopkins University described the project as ‘fascinatingly fascinating’.

A picture provided by NASA shows an artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. On Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, NASA announced that the spacecraft has plunged through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona in April, and will keep drawing ever closer to the sun and diving deeper into the corona

NASA has provided an image showing the Parker Solar Probe approaching Sun. NASA released a picture on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 showing the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun.

As Parker Solar Probe travelled through the corona on its eight attempt, the spacecraft flew by structures called coronal streamers (pictured). These streamers can be seen as bright features moving upward in the set of pictures in the front row and angled downward in the bottom row. Such a view is only possible due to the spacecraft's ability to go above and below the streamers inside the corona. Until now, streamers have only been seen from afar. They are visible from Earth during total solar eclipses.

Parker Solar Probe traveled through the corona during its eight attempts. Spacecraft passed structures known as coronal streamers, (pictured). The bright, moving features in the coronal streamers are visible in the pictures at the top and bottom. This view can only be possible because the spacecraft is able to travel above and below streamers within the corona. Streamers could only be seen from the distance until now. They can be seen from Earth during solar eclipses.

This handout photograph courtesy of NASA shows the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launching NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, August 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. - NASA launched a $1.5 billion spacecraft toward the Sun on a historic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of dangerous solar storms

NASA has provided this handout photo of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that launched NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, to touch the Sun on Sunday August 12, 2018. It was taken from Launch Complex 37, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA has launched an $1.5billion spacecraft towards the Sun as part of a historic mission designed to protect Earth from dangerous solar storms.

Parker was launched on February 18, 2018. It was named for Eugene Parker who was a prominent astronomer. Parker is designed to answer fundamental questions concerning the solar wind, which flows energetic particles through the solar system.  

Eight million miles distant from the Sun, when the spacecraft crossed the boundary of solar atmosphere & outgoing solar wind. 

According to scientists, the spacecraft made at least three dips in and out of corona, with each one a smooth transition.

Justin Kasper, University of Michigan, told reporters that the first and most dramatic time they were down was for five hours. 

He noted, however that Parker was speeding along at a rate of more than 62 miles per second (100 km).

Raouafi said that the corona was more dusty than anticipated. Scientists can better understand where the solar wind originates and how it travels out to space, Raouafi stated. 

As Parker Solar Probe approaches closer to the Sun, it¿s crossing into unexplored territory and making new discoveries. This image represents Parker Solar Probe's distances from the Sun for some of these milestones and discoveries

As Parker Solar Probe approaches closer to the Sun, it’s crossing into unexplored territory and making new discoveries. The image below shows Parker Solar Probe’s separation from the Sun during some milestones and discoveries.

It took seven orbits around Venus for Parker to finally get close to the sun's surface in April. New discoveries on the sun's upper atmosphere, also known as the corona, will better explain the origins of the solar wind and its flares

Parker finally reached the surface of April’s sun in April after seven orbits around Venus. It will take seven orbits around Venus to get Parker close enough to the surface of the sun that new discoveries about the sun’s corona (also known as the corona) will be able better explain the source and origins for the solar wind.

The corona, due to its lack of solid surfaces on the sun, is where all the action takes place. Researchers can study this area up close and gain a better understanding of solar flares that could disrupt life here.

Although preliminary data suggests that Parker may have also entered the corona in its ninth close approach to August, scientists say more research is needed. Last month, it made its 10th close approach.

Parker will continue to draw closer and deeper into the corona, until the grand final orbit of 2025 in which he is the last remaining human on the sun.

American Physical Society published the latest results.