The first successful contact the plane made with the sun's outer layer was announced at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The craft successfully touched the sun after traveling 150 million kilometers from Earth.
NASA's Parker Solar Probe passed through the corona for five hours in April. Parker Solar Probe has been in close contact eight times with the solar system's core. Then it took scientists several months to receive the data and analyze it to confirm the achievement of the aircraft that launched in 2018.
"The fact that the probe has touched the sun is a crowning moment for solar system science and an incredible achievement," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's science mission board, said in a statement.
Parker Solar Probe successfully traveled 13 million kilometers from the center of the sun. Parker is said to have crossed the sun's atmosphere at least three times where temperatures can reach 2 million kelvins (about 1,999,726.85 degrees Celsius), at a speed of 100 kilometers per second.
What Can Be Learned From The Sun?
Nour Raouafi, a project professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the achievement was "very exciting" and explained that the corona appeared dustier than expected. Future solar travel will help scientists better understand the origin of the solar wind, and how it is heated and emitted into space.
Because the sun doesn't have a solid surface, the corona is a place to explore highly powerful regions magnetically, and up close could help scientists better understand solar explosions that could disrupt life on Earth.
Preliminary data show parker solar probe also touched the corona during its ninth approach experiment in August, but scientists say more analysis is needed. The ride also made its 10th closing approach last month.
Parker Solar Probe will make its next approach in January 2020. It will continue to close to the sun and dive deeper into the corona until its final orbit in 2025.
NASA Delays James Webb Launch
Meanwhile, NASA announced on Wednesday the delay in the launch of its newest space telescope, James Webb, for at least two days. The delays were due to communication problems between the observatory and the transport rocket.
James Webb's launch is expected to take place on December 24. The $10 billion telescope will be placed aboard Europe's Ariane 5 rocket and launched from French Guiana, South America. The James Webb telescope is expected to be able to see farther into space than its Hubble telescope predecessor.