Eugene N. Parker, 94, dies; Predicts the existence of the solar wind

Dr. Parker, he said, was happy when people pointed out an error in his calculations, but not happy when people accepted common scientific...


Dr. Parker, he said, was happy when people pointed out an error in his calculations, but not happy when people accepted common scientific assumptions without question.

“He had little patience for ‘It’s well known that…'” Dr Turner said.

Even though Dr. Chandrasekhar, a future Nobel laureate, disagreed with Dr. Parker’s findings, he quashed the reviews and the paper was published.

Four years later, Dr. Parker was vindicated when Mariner 2, a NASA spacecraft en route to Venusobserved energetic particles circulating in interplanetary space – exactly what he predicted.

When Dr Zurbuchen joined NASA in 2016, the agency had been working for years on a mission called Solar Probe Plus, which was expected to repeatedly approach the sun. Dr. Zurbuchen said he didn’t like the name Solar Probe Plus and wrote to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine asking them to suggest someone to name the mission.

The unequivocal answer: Eugene Parker.

NASA had never named a spacecraft after a living person. But Dr Zurbuchen, who had met Dr Parker years earlier, said he had little trouble convincing Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator at the time, to approve the change in 2017. Dr. Zurbuchen then called Dr. Parker to ask if it would be right for him. “He said, ‘Absolutely. It will be my honor,” recalls Dr. Zurbuchen.

Dr. Parker later said he was surprised NASA asked for his permission.

A few months later, Dr. Parker went to visit the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, where the spacecraft was built and tested. Dr. Fox, then project scientist for the mission, remembers saying, “Parker, meet Parker.”

The following year, Dr. Parker and his family traveled to Florida to witness the launch of his namesake spacecraft.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Eugene N. Parker, 94, dies; Predicts the existence of the solar wind
Eugene N. Parker, 94, dies; Predicts the existence of the solar wind
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