Scientists have studied the solar wind for more than 60 years, but they’re still puzzled over some of its behaviors. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe — designed and built by APL — hears the small chirps, squeaks and rustles that hint at the origin of this mysterious and ever-present wind. And now the Parker Solar Probe team is getting their first chance to hear them, too.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Yet through the wind’s roar, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe hears the small chirps, squeaks and rustles that hint at the origin of this mysterious and ever-present wind. And now the Parker Solar Probe team is getting their first chance to hear them, too.

“We are looking at the young solar wind, being born around the Sun,” said mission Project Scientist Nour Raouafi, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Maryland. “And it’s completely different from what we see here near Earth.”

Scientists have studied the solar wind for more than 60 years, but they’re still puzzled over some of its behaviors. While they know it comes from the Sun’s million-degree upper atmosphere called the corona, the solar wind, for example, doesn’t slow down as it leaves the Sun — it speeds up, and it has a sort of internal heater that keeps it from cooling as it zips through space. With growing concern about the solar wind’s ability to interfere with GPS satellites and disrupt power grids on the ground, it’s become imperative to better understand it.

Just 17 months since launch, and after three orbits around the Sun, Parker Solar Probe — designed, built and now operated by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA — has not disappointed.

Complete Article and Audio Clips, courtesy of Jeremy Rehm

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Here we go again! Parker Solar Probe started its fourth solar encounter today, leading up to close solar approach on Jan. 29. During this orbit, Parker will break its own records for spacecraft speed and distance to the Sun. Follow the blog