VIDEO | Historic moment: NASA spacecraft enters sunny atmosphere

NASA Solar Probe, Parker / NASA Photo

The solar probe Parker on NASA became the first spacecraft to enter the solar atmosphere, the US space agency announced on Tuesday, writes CNN.

The probe flew through the solar corona, the upper layer of our star's atmosphere, collecting particles and data from magnetic fields there, NASA said, calling the milestone a "giant leap for solar science."

"Touching the sun with Parker's solar probe is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat," he said. Thomas Zurbuchen from the NASA Office of Scientific Missions.

"Not only does this milestone give us a deeper insight into the evolution of our Sun and its effects on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about the stars in the rest of the universe."

The space agency said Parker had found the right conditions to enter the solar atmosphere at 18,8 solar radii (about 1,3 million kilometers) above the Sun's surface during his eighth solar flight on April 28, and the passage took several hours.

"We expected that sooner or later we would encounter the crown, at least for a short time," said Justin Casper, lead author of a new article in Physical Review Letters.

"But it is very exciting that we have already achieved that."

As the probe continues to approach the Sun, it will eventually approach 8,86 solar radii from the surface, NASA said.

In its next flight, expected in January 2022, the Parker spacecraft is likely to pass through the corona again, the space agency said.

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