The German-American Helios 2 Probe was launched in April 1976. Helios 2 probe made a record of spaceflight's closest-ever solar approach, cruising within 26.55 million miles (42.73 million kilometers) of the sun. Till now Helio 2 Probe had the record of closest-ever approach to the sun that gets so close to the sun. But now the Helios 2 Probe's record of closest approach to the sun was beaten by the NASA's Parker Solar Probe on 29 October 2018, crossing the threshold at about 1:04 p.m. EDT (1704 GMT), agency officials said.
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Parker Solar Probe not only broke the record of closest approach to the sun but also broke the record of fastest speed relative to the sun. Helios 2 Probe was set up the record at 1,53,454 miles/hour (246,960 km/h) of fastest speed relative to the sun. But now Parker Solar Probe has set up the new record for top speed relative to Earth; the probe reached 165,000 miles/hour ( 265,000 km/h ), about 10:54 p.m. EDT (0254 GMT on Oct. 30), NASA officials said.
On 12 August 2018, Parker Solar Probe launched by NASA lifted by Delta 4 heavy rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The purpose of this mission, to protect the Earth by studying the sun and unveiling the mysteries of dangerous solar storms. This is the 7 years long mission launched with the cost of $1.5 million.
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The Probe will make 24 flybys during 7 year's mission with each encounter, the probe gets closer and closer to our sun. NASA has expectations to records will fall again and again over the mission. Parker's first close encounter with the Sun is scheduled for October 31, with perihelion (closest solar approach) coming on the night of Nov. 5. Its final close approach is expected in 2024 coming just 3.83 million miles from the Sun's surface.
"It's been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we've now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history," mission project manager Andy Driesman, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, said in a statement. "It's a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on Oct. 31."
As the sun surface is too hottest, in order to protect the spacecraft sports a special carbon-composite shield and its instruments from intense heat and radiation during its close flybys.