NASA solar probe is enduring dangerous plasma explosions

  1. Space Vehicle
  2. Article
    1. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe
    2. NASA solar probe ‘touched the sun’ but is enduring dangerous plasma explosions
    3. CNET
    5. Summary
      1. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched 3 years ago and is designed to “touch the sun” where it studies the magnetic fields and particle physics.
      2. The probe has become the fastest human-made object, but due to its great speed space dust has become an threat to the probe. When space dust hits the probe’s metal body it heats up, vaporizes and ionizes, and becomes plasma. In effect, this process causes plasma explosions that constantly attack the Parker probe.
      3. These consistent mini explosions knocks small pieces off of Parker which is concerning because if one of the explosions knocked something off at the right angle, sunlight could reflect into the navcams, blinding Parker. If Parker is blinded long enough, its heat shield could get reangled leading to the spacecraft not being protected from heat that would fry it.
  3. While this vulnerability is more unique to the Parker probe due to its high speed, it could be taken advantage of by attackers. Nation state actors or cyber-terrorists could potentially want the Parker probe to fail by using an advanced persistent threat to change the positioning of the spacecraft such that space dust would incapacitate it. Alternatively they may want to steal the data from the probe.
  4. The impact that the Parker probe is currently under and the vulnerability it exposes to potential threat actors effect the probe’s critical systems.