Parker Solar Probe Corotation

Parker Solar Probe Corotation

Inspired by @matthen2, and adapting his mathematica code to show why Parker Solar Probe’s orbit exhibits a loop when viewed in a frame corotating with the Sun’s surface. Code can be seen on github.

The animation shows one orbit of Earth (blue) and 3 orbits of Parker Solar Probe. The orbit of PSP is merely an ellipse, rather than being based on gravity, as this allows the animation to loop. The Sun rotates 12 times in this animation, similar to the real rotation rate of 27 days.

The two spirals represent the interplanetary magnetic field, which due to the Sun’s rotation follows an Archimedian spiral known as the “Parker Spiral”.

When moving into the frame that rotates with the surface of the Sun, Parker Solar Probe’s orbit displays a loop. When comparing to Earth, you see that Parker Solar Probe slows down in this frame, and is overtaken by Earth.