2021-11-11

Parker solar probe data show how hypervelocity dust impacts cause damage

By yqqlm yqqlm

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it is hard to imagine that a grain of dust can cause damage to anything, but when flying at an incredible speed, some small things can cause destructive damage

Parker solar probe data show how hypervelocity dust impacts cause damage

using the electromagnetic and optical observation data of the Parker solar probe, the researchers provide the best data so far on how hypervelocity dust impact can damage and interrupt the operation of spacecraft. At present, Parker is running near the sun at a speed of about 400000 miles per hour. It is currently passing through an area called the ecliptic cloud, a thick dust cloud shaped like a pancake and extending throughout the solar system. The cloud is made up of tiny dust particles shed by asteroids and comets as they pass through the solar system

when the spacecraft crossed this area, it encountered thousands of small dust particles, ranging in diameter from 2 microns to 20 microns, less than a quarter of the width of human hair. These particles travel at more than 6700 miles per hour and can cause serious damage. When a dust particle strikes a spacecraft, it heats the dust and the spacecraft surface enough to vaporize the material and then ionize. When a material is ionized, it is separated into its ionic and electronic components to produce a plasma

rapid vaporization and ionization produced a plasma explosion lasting one thousandth of a second. In the impact with larger dust particles, the impact produced a mass of debris, which slowly expanded from the spacecraft. Researchers can use the antenna and magnetic field sensor on the spacecraft to measure these interferences in the electromagnetic environment of the spacecraft. The researchers believe that these findings may lead to an in-depth understanding of the space weather around the sun

Parker solar probe data show how hypervelocity dust impacts cause damage(1)

these data enable the research team to study plasma explosions and how they interact with the solar wind. The researchers believe that by studying how this process works on a small scale, they may better understand how the larger plasma areas around planets such as Venus and Mars are swept by the solar wind. The data collected by the team also have an impact on the safety of the Parker solar probe and spacecraft that may operate in the same area in the future

as for the impact on Parker itself, the research team found that many image stripes look radial and originate near the vital heat shield. The data also show that some debris may scatter sunlight into the navigation camera, making the spacecraft unable to determine its direction in space for the time being. This is a particularly dangerous problem for the solar detector, because it must accurately determine the direction of its heat shield in order to survive in the extremely harsh environment in which it operates

the Parker solar probe will perform its main scientific mission before 2025, during which it will orbit the sun 15 times. In October 2018, the probe set a record of being closest to the sun in history. By December 2018, the detector had returned that close data. By August 2019, Parker had returned 22gb of data close to the sun, and there were more