This object is now the fastest thing humans ever made

NASA's Parker Solar Probe just took its 17th lap around the Sun. It was traveling at 394,736 miles (635,266 km) per hour, making it the fastest human-made object in history. It achieved such an astonishing speed by swinging in and right out of Venus's orbit, using the planet's gravity to boost the probe's velocity.

According to ScienceAlert, "at these speeds, it'd be possible for an aircraft to circumnavigate our planet roughly 15 times in a single hour, or zoom from New York to Los Angeles in just over 20 seconds."

Not only is it a record speed, it's also a record proximity to the Sun – just 7.26 million kilometers above the radiant ocean of plasma we think of as the star's surface.

Given the Sun is just under 1.4 million kilometers across, this would be akin to standing several respectable paces away from a blazing campfire. Near enough to smell the smoke but not so close that your nose hairs singe.

Visualization of the journey below. More details at NASA.

image: NASA