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Will Parker Solar Probe survive its 24 loops around the sun while getting just a few million miles away from the surface of our star?

The Parker Solar Probe rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history. Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun's behaviour.

Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate.

The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just 6.16 million km (3.83 million miles) from the Sun's broiling "surface".

"I realise that might not sound that close, but imagine the Sun and the Earth were a metre apart. Parker Solar Probe would be just 4cm away from the Sun," explained Dr Nicky Fox, the UK-born project scientist who is affiliated to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

"It will also be the fastest man-made object ever, travelling at speeds of up to 430,000 mph [690,000km/h] - New York to Tokyo in under a minute!" she told BBC News.

Resolution is positive if the Parker Probe is still transmitting valid data to Earth as of its 24th Perihelion, and at least some of those approaches have been within target specifications of the flight plan.


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