How close can you get to the sun? This is one of the questions many space enthusiasts ponder when they dream of going to space or getting a space vacation. The answer, of course, is “not very close”. You cannot go any closer than the Earth to the Sun. If you wanted to be at the Sun, you would have to be inside a spacecraft, and even then your view would be limited to Earth’s surface because of Earth’s orbital plane.
But did you know that you can actually get up close and personal to the Sun? If you had a space mission, you might be able to see the Sun as it rises or sets. In fact, that is exactly what astronauts do during their space missions. They take photographs of the Sun to help them understand it better. There are a few ways to get a close shave with the Sun.
It used to be thought that to answer the question of how close can you get to the Sun, you had to go to space. However, in 2021, photos were taken by astronauts of the Sun from orbit. These pictures provided an answer to how close can you get to the Sun, but they also provided information on the solar winds. These are strong solar winds that can actually buffet an aircraft. Fortunately, these solar winds are not strong enough to blow the aircraft away from the Sun, although they could cause some problems for the astronauts.
In order to capture these solar winds, a space craft has to put itself into a high-velocity orbit around the Sun. The spacecraft uses its solar panels to catch the solar winds. Afterward, it sends them into its orbit where they collide with the outer solar layers. The spacecraft also sends the solar material with it as a backshell to the satellite.
When the spacecraft gets closer to the Sun, the material becomes a hotter plasma. A different process then takes place. The plasma continues to grow faster then the Earth because it is cooler. As it grows, it pulls on the spacecraft, forcing it closer to the Sun.
How close can you get to the sun? About one-third the distance of Earth is solar radiation from space. The closer it is, the less the spacecraft has to be slowed down. This is why many mission operators have set specific times for when the spacecraft is to be closer to the Sun.
If a probe is to be launched to get very close to the Sun, careful consideration has to be made about which direction the probe is to travel. If the probe is to make a round trip, then the spacecraft has to be slowed down to one-fourth the speed of light. For a two-side triangular trip, then the spacecraft has to be spun down to one-eighth of the speed of light. The total time the probe has to get to the Sun will depend on these requirements.
How close can you get to the Sun? If your satellite or probe can travel to the Moon and back, then the answer is “close enough”. But remember that this is only one direction that these missions go. There are others as well. Other missions send supplies into space from one place to another. Some of these include sending supplies to the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
A solar probe could land on the surface of the Moon and take a picture or two. But this is rather difficult to do with a lander. On the other hand, it may be quite simple to send a probe on an unmanned mission to the far reaches of the Solar System. These would certainly put the solar probe close enough to the Sun to see a substantial difference in its light output.
How close can you get to the Sun? As I said, it depends. But the truth is, even sending a satellite into orbit around the Moon would send the probe closer than any manned mission ever could. That’s because there are other stars in our Galaxy that can hold out their Suns for as long as ours does. Therefore, getting even closer still requires further exploration.
So, we can safely say that the Sun is one of the most popular places in the Solar System. And that means that it has a huge effect on space weather. The Sun plays an important part in the existence of space satellites as well as space debris. Therefore, it is very important that we get very close to it, perhaps close enough to see a visible difference in its rays. Then perhaps we will start to learn how to watch the Sun directly!