Parker solar probe is going to be doing 7 fly-bys of Venus before it reaches its lowest point in its orbit around the sun. Will it be doing anything before it reaches the lowest point? We're still closer than ever before even during the 1st pass, it would be hard to imagine that we've yet to do anything with the probe.

I guess my question would be: At what point will they start using the sensors like the Titanium-Zirconium-Molybdenum Faraday cup and other instrumentation to gather information about our sun? Have they already started, and if they have is there anything published yet stating the results at this current point in the mission?

P.S. Sorry about the vagueness in the phrase "doing science".

  • $\begingroup$ This could be hard to answer. I'm pretty sure every possible sensor has been turned on and checked to be sure its operational and has produced some baseline data, and scientists may find some of the data interesting. As you mention, "doing science" might be a soft threshold and hard to judge. But lets see what happens, perhaps some important new measurements have been reported already. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 14 '19 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ Related question on doing science at Venus $\endgroup$ – Jack Mar 14 '19 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh was trying to make it more of a "have we learned anything new from X" style question. I think it's objective enough to get an answer (provided the correct people see it), though it isn't as specific as most other questions-- I'm looking for news from the horses mouth, honestly. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Mar 14 '19 at 13:18

September 2018, January 1, or April. (depending on definition of "doing science")

I'm not sure if you consider doing this, doing science, but:

From NASA:

Parker Solar Probe entered full operational status (known as Phase E) on Jan. 1 [2019], with all systems online and operating as designed. The spacecraft has been delivering data from its instruments to Earth via the Deep Space Network, and to date more than 17 gigabits of science data has been downloaded. The full dataset from the first orbit will be downloaded by April.

The team

"...is not only focused on analyzing the science data but also preparing for the second solar encounter..."


The first raw data has been released to the public on 19 September 2018 (presumably the link will continually update as more information is made available).

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, so sometime in April, neat! I'm wondering what they'll make publicly available. (Raw data from FIELDS, IS☉IS, WISPR, SPC, SPAN-A and SPAN-B)? I can't find any mention of public release dates on the blog you linked. Good to know they're filling it up and dumping the data with each round trip though, thanks! I have another spaceblog to follow now :). $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Mar 14 '19 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn - in that case you might consider September 2018 (edited above as requested). $\endgroup$ – Mikey Mar 14 '19 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Awesome!! How did you find that data, is there any source that they update when they release new data from X probe, like a catalog of their release data? How'd you find that page? Google? I love this though, this is exactly what I was looking for (even though it isn't sun data, just test data)! $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Mar 14 '19 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn that depends on the mission. For planetary missions, all data is stored in the Planetary Data System. That doesn't include the Sun, though. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Dec 14 '19 at 8:10

In particular, the Faraday cup was supplied by Dr. Kaspar at U. Michigan and their data is already being published (first data release November 12, 2019) and is available publicly at this link along with some information about how to interpret the data: http://sweap.cfa.harvard.edu/Data.html

  • $\begingroup$ This is not exactly a link-only answer but to me it's close. Can you add a sentence or two to mention just the basics of what science was "done"? Was something learned, or is this just a repository of data? Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 17 '19 at 3:09

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