Launched on 12 Aug. 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe had completed 13 of its scheduled 24 orbits around the Sun by Nov. 2022. The mission’s primary science goal is to determine the structure and dynamics of the Sun’s coronal magnetic field, understand how the solar corona and wind are heated and accelerated, and determine what processes accelerate energetic particles. Parker Solar Probe returned a treasure trove of science data that far exceeded quality, significance, and quantity expectations, leading to a significant number of discoveries reported in nearly 700 peer-reviewed publications. The first four years of the 7-year primary mission duration have been mostly during solar minimum conditions with few major solar events. Starting with orbit 8 (i.e., 28 Apr. 2021), Parker flew through the magnetically dominated corona, i.e., sub-Alfvénic solar wind, which is one of the mission’s primary objectives. In this paper, we present an overview of the scientific advances made mainly during the first four years of the Parker Solar Probe mission, which go well beyond the three science objectives that are: (1) Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind; (2) Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind; and (3) Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
O.V.A. was supported by NASA grants 80NNSC19K0848, 80NSSC22K0417, 80NSSC21K1770, and NSF grant 1914670. S.B. is supported by NASA grants 80NSSC21K0012 and Parker Solar Probe as part of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program (contract NNN06AA01C). C.H.K.C. is supported by UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship MR/W007657/1 and STFC Consolidated Grant ST/T00018X/1. R.C. was supported by NASA grants 80NSSC18K1210, 80NSSC18K1648, and 80NSSC21K1765. K.G.K. was supported by NASA grant 80NSSC19K0912. I.M. is supported by the Research Council of Norway (grant number 262941). Support for J.S. was provided by Rutherford Discovery Fellowship RDF-U001804, which is managed through the Royal Society Te Apārangi. J.R.S, P.P., and D.M.M. acknowledge the Parker Solar Probe Guest Investigator Program, grant 80NSSC21K1764. M.A.T. was supported by NASA contract NNN06AA01C and grants 80NSSC20K1847, 80NSSC20K1014, and 80NSSC21K1662.
Parker Solar Probe was designed, built, and is now operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory as part of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program (contract NNN06AA01C). Support from the LWS management and technical team has played a critical role in the success of the Parker Solar Probe mission. The FIELDS instrument suite was designed and built and is operated by a consortium of institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, University of Minnesota, University of Colorado, Boulder, NASA/GSFC, CNRS/LPC2E, University of New Hampshire, University of Maryland, UCLA, IFRU, Observatoire de Meudon, Imperial College, London and Queen Mary University London. The SWEAP Investigation is a multi-institution project led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other members of the SWEAP team come from the University of Michigan, University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, The University of Alabama Huntsville, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Draper Laboratory, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (IS⊙IS) Investigation is a multi-institution project led by Princeton University with contributions from JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, Caltech, GSFC, JPL, SwRI, University of New Hampshire, University of Delaware, and University of Arizona. The Wide-Field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) instrument was designed, built, and is now operated by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in collaboration with JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, California Institute of Technology/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Gottingen, Germany, Centre Spatiale de Liege, Belgium and University of Toulouse/Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology.
© 2023, The Author(s).
- Coronal mass ejections
- Magnetic fields
- Parker solar probe
- Solar wind