NASA marked an impressive milestone when its Parker Solar Probe was the first ever to touch the sun and return earlier this year, and footage from its historic mission offers a stunning glimpse at the massive star’s upper atmosphere. The black-and-white timelapse shows a view from the probe as it hurls through a flurry of glowing bands and sparks that dart across the frame with celestial bodies panning in the background. These structures, known as coronal streamers, are part of the magnetic field surrounding the star—it doesn’t have a solid surface, meaning satellites like Parker come in contact with the fiery matter while flying through it. These sweeping plumes are often visible from Earth during solar eclipses.
During its travel, the probe also captured the Milky Way, Earth, and other planets from a rare angle, which astrophysicist Grant Tremblay labeled in the screenshots below. This was the satellite’s eighth attempt to permeate the sun’s atmosphere since it launched in 2018, and the successful mission garnered quite a few staggering statistics. NASA shares:
At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe hurtles around the sun at approximately 430,000 mph (700,000 kph). That’s fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second… At closest approach to the Sun, the front of Parker Solar Probe’s solar shield faces temperatures approaching 2,500 F (1,377 C). The spacecraft’s payload will be near room temperature.
For a similar look at the sun’s details, watch this timelapse chronicling one month of its evolution. (via PetaPixel)