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Parker completes 7th solar fly-by, sets new records

The Parker Solar Probe this week successfully completed its seventh close fly-by of the Sun, coming within 8.4 million miles and traveling at almost 300,000 miles per hour.

Nor is that all for 2021:

The spacecraft will make three more progressively close passes to the Sun in 2021 alone, as well as two gravity-assist flybys at Venus in February and October to adjust the trajectory of its orbit. After zipping past Venus on Feb. 20, Parker Solar Probe will again make close approaches to the Sun on April 29 and Aug. 9. Following another Venus gravity assist on Oct. 16, the spacecraft will make an even closer solar pass on Nov. 21, with perihelion just 5.3 million miles from the Sun’s surface.

Because the fly-bys of Venus are shrinking Parker’s solar orbit, the time between solar fly-bys is also shrinking.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • V-Man

    Is the plan to make ever more closer (and riskier) approaches as the mission progresses? If so it’s a great idea. Get some info back and take some risk to get even better data.

    After all, it’s not like we’re getting the probe back!

  • geoffc

    If speed of light, is 300,000km/s, then is Parker doing close to 1/60th light speed? (300,000Mph=480,000Kph, so more than 1/60th)

  • john hare

    133 km/sec is about 1/2,300 of light speed. 3,600 seconds in an hour when you do the conversion.

  • Dick Eagleson


    No. The sped of light is 300,000 kilometers per second. Parker’s speed record was 300,000 miles per hour. There are 3600 seconds in an hour. So you’re off by a factor of 3600.

  • Max

    Collect as much data as you can probe, The sun will soon be active, your life will be limited.

  • geoffc

    Thank you! I was dividing by 60 not 3600. So I was off by a factor of 60. That explains it.

  • John

    That probe has burned up in the sun. It just doesn’t know it yet.

  • Andi

    Easy way to avoid burning up – just schedule perihelion so it arrives at night!

    (It’s been a long day) :)

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