NASA reported that its Parker solar probe had touched the Sun for the first time in history. The spacecraft flew through the outer part of the star's atmosphere – the Sun's corona.

The actual flight took place back in April 2021, but the experts could only confirm this historical moment now.

The Sun does not have a solid surface. Instead, its overheated atmosphere is bound to the star by gravity and magnetic forces. The probe crossed the so-called Alfvén critical surface – the outer edge of the solar atmosphere where gravity and magnetic fields are too weak to contain solar material.

During this unprecedented maneuver, Parker spent nearly five hours at a distance of 13 million km from the Sun and successfully transmitted data about its atmosphere, like data about the Sun's magnetic fields and particle samples of its corona.

NASA notes that this mission contributes profoundly to understanding why the solar corona heats up and solar wins occur, which can affect the Earth's magnetic field.

The Parker Solar Probe Accidentally Took a Photo of Venus
The Parker Solar Probe, which was launched to study the Sun, accidentally snapped a photo of Venus as it flew past the planet in July 2020. Launched in 2018, the probe uses Venus’s gravity to move closer to the Sun.

The Parker solar probe was launched to study the Sun in August 2018. Its goal is to get close enough to the Sun to learn more about its corona and the origin of the solar wind.