In the early morning hours of August 12th a Delta IV Heavy Rockets three engines roared to life lifting the Parker Solar Probe into the night sky and started its journey on a mission to study the sun.

Parker Solar Probe has been setting records throughout its mission, from fastest spacecraft to closest approach to the sun. Innovative technologies were developed to make sure the spacecraft would survive its journey, from a protective heat shield on the front to shield the instruments from the intense heat

In the three short years since the mission started, we mark the 1/3 mission lifetime.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is speeding busily through its ninth science-gathering solar encounter, heading toward a close approach of the Sun on Aug. 9 that will take it to within about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million kilometers, or 14.97 solar radii) of the solar surface.

That matches the record-distance of its last closest approach (called perihelion) on April 29; at the same time, the probe will also equal its record-setting flyby speed of 330,000 miles per hour (532,000 kilometers per hour). And, it’s only 2.6 million miles from the ultimate closest approach of 3.8 million miles from the Sun’s surface, which Parker Solar Probe will reach will reach in December 2024.

Learn more about the Parker Solar Probe Mission