In a groundbreaking achievement for human-built technology, the Parker Solar Probe has broken the record for the fastest speed ever achieved. Launched in 2018, the probe is currently orbiting the sun at a distance of just 4.51 million miles, making it the closest any human-made object has ever been to our star.
The primary goal of the Parker Solar Probe is to study the sun and collect invaluable data as it passes through the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. The probe’s latest speed record stands at a mind-boggling 394,736 miles per hour, surpassing its previous record and solidifying its position as the fastest human-built object ever.
To put this achievement into perspective, the Voyager probes, currently exploring interstellar space, are moving at a mere fraction of the Parker Solar Probe’s speed. Even the International Space Station, which orbits Earth, pales in comparison, with a speed of around 17,500 miles per hour. Meanwhile, the fastest aircraft on Earth creeps along at a modest 4,520 miles per hour.
Remarkably, the Parker Solar Probe is expected to reach even greater speeds in the future, with estimates suggesting it could reach up to 430,000 miles per hour by 2025. What’s more, this impressive velocity has been achieved without the use of traditional engines. Instead, the probe relies on gravity-assist maneuvers from flybys of Venus to propel itself through space. The only onboard propulsion comes from twelve small thrusters used for steering and direction.
The question of whether the Parker Solar Probe should be considered a vehicle arises, as it is an uncrewed probe designed solely to transport scientific instruments and sensors. However, the significance of its mission cannot be understated. The data collected by the probe is expected to have far-reaching scientific implications, potentially shaping entire careers.
But for now, the focus remains on its exceptional speed. At almost 400,000 miles per hour, the Parker Solar Probe has achieved a feat previously unimaginable. Despite weighing roughly the same as an old air-cooled VW Beetle, the probe is significantly faster. This remarkable achievement serves as a testament to human ingenuity and the ongoing pursuit of scientific exploration.
As scientists eagerly await the wealth of data that the probe will provide, the knowledge that human-built technology has reached such astounding speeds is undeniably thrilling. The Parker Solar Probe’s record-breaking achievement not only pushes the boundaries of our understanding but also sets the stage for even more extraordinary discoveries in the future.
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