The corona appeared dustier than expected, according to Raouafi. Future coronal excursions will help scientist better understand the origin of the solar wind, he said, and how it is heated and accelerated out into space.

A NASA spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona, AP reports.

Scientists announced the news Tuesday during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The Parker Solar Probe actually flew through the corona in April during the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the sun. Scientists said it took a few months to get the data back and then several more months to confirm.

“Fascinatingly exciting,” said project scientist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University.

Launched in 2018, Parker was 8 million miles (13 million kilometers) from the center of the sun when it first crossed the jagged, uneven boundary between the solar atmosphere and outgoing solar wind. The spacecraft dipped in and out of the corona at least three times, each a smooth transition, according to scientists.

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