NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has just smashed through the record for the fastest object ever created by humankind. The probe was the previous holder of the record. The new record, which measures 635,266 kilometers (394,736 miles) per hour, happened during the probe’s most recent approach to the Sun.
The previous record accomplished by the probe was 586,863.4 kilometers (346,600 miles) per hour, and it was set just three years ago. Just for a little more clarification of how fast this is, an aircraft traveling at these speeds could circumnavigate our planet 15 times in one hour. Those speeds are insane on their own, but Parker isn’t done yet.
The probe is just now on its 17th loop, with another seven laps set to happen before it spirals headfirst into the Sun’s surface. It didn’t just set the record for the fastest object ever created by humankind, either — it also set a new record for the closest proximity to the Sun at just 7.26 million kilometers, making it a close flyby of our star.
To accomplish these speeds and the laps that Parker is currently following, NASA scientists had to calculate an exact path that would see the probe lining up with Venus just enough to slow the probe as it continued its orbit, slowly closing the rings of its orbit until it crashes into the Sun.
It is no small feat by any means, and seeing the successes that Parker has ushered in, including being the first NASA spacecraft to touch the Sun, has been an amazing thing to see as an avid follower of what NASA is doing to learn more about our solar system.
The Parker Solar Probe has just set a new record for the fastest object created by humankind, and it will one day turn to melted metal as it crashes into the Sun after 24 orbits around our star, gleaming as much information from the star as it can in the meantime.