As part of NASA's newest and most ambitious effort to study Earth's nearest star, the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was designed to "touch the Sun." So far, it has already broken many records by getting closer to the Sun that no other spacecraft has ever done before. More so, it has operated its instruments at the hottest temperature and is considered the fastest human-made object ever.

However, its extraordinary mission comes with a cost. Moving too fast has made it run into tiny grains of space dust that can lead to serious damage.

 NASA's Parker Solar Probe Being Bombarded By Plasma Explosions as it Gets Closer to the Sun
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Parker Solar Probe artist rendering Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

Parker Solar Probe: The First Spacecraft to Visit the Sun

The Parker Solar Probe is a revolutionary spacecraft that will better the understanding of the Sun. According to NASA, the spacecraft travels through the Sun's atmosphere, specifically in its corona, facing brutal heat and radiation to provide the closest-ever observations of Earth's nearest star.

It was launched on August 12, 2018, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida onboard the Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage. It will use the gravity of Venus during seven flybys within seven years to gradually get close to the Sun as close as 3.8 million miles.

Flying into the Sun's corona, Parker Solar Probe will use a combination of measurements and imaging to expand knowledge on the origin and evolution of the solar wind. In that way, scientists will be able to forecast changes in the space environment that affects life and technology here on Earth.

ALSO READ: NASA Parker Solar Probe: Is It the Fastest Object Ever Built To Get Near the Sun?

Tiny Grains of Space Dust Damaging Parker Solar Probe

Tiny particles of space dust coming from asteroids and comets are freely floating in the Solar System that measures a quarter of the width of a human hair. CNet reported that as NASA's probe spacecraft whips around the Sun at almost unfathomable speeds, it also constantly collides with the grains of space dust, generating heat that will eventually vaporize and ionize them and become plasma.

Since the spacecraft is bombarded by dust at high speeds of up to 180 kilometers per second or about 400,000 miles per hour, that means their body is constantly experiencing plasma explosions.

According to, a team of researchers from universities and institutions examines the collisions between the spacecraft and the space dust. They drew on electromagnetic and optical observations from the spacecraft to produce a complete picture of the effects of hypervelocity dust on the spacecraft and how it will disturb its operations.

They noticed that plasma explosions would knock some pieces off the spacecraft that would affect the navigational cameras of the probe. For instance, they could reflect sunlight right into the navigation cameras and blind Parker for a moment if the spacecraft is flicked off at the right angle.

But the wrong angle could blind it for longer periods, changing the angle of its heat shield in the wrong way, which could get the whole spacecraft on fire. Luckily, the spacecraft continues to strive and break its records as long as it can withstand constant bombardment and will even continue to go faster.

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Check out more news and information on Parker Solar Probe in Science Times.