Yes, both unmanned space craft have gone (relatively) close in the past and are scheduled to go again in the near future. In the mid 1970s, the Helios I (launched in 1974) and Helios II (launched in 1976), launched to study the Sun, both passed within .3 astronomical units to the Sun (one astronomical unit, or AU, is equivalent to the distance between the Earth and the Sun – 93 million miles). Helios II actually got just a little closer, around .29 AU, in the process also setting the record for fastest man made object with a top speed of 150,000 miles per hour. The two probes stopped sending information back by the mid 1980s, but are still in their respective orbits around the Sun.
As for the future, In 2015 NASA plans to launch the Solar Probe, an unmanned spacecraft that aims to study the heat discrepancy between the solar corona and the photosphere, as well as the mechanism behind solar winds. Built to withstand temperatures of up to 2,600 degrees Celsius, the probe is predicted to reach speeds of up to 450,000 mph. If successful, the spacecraft should come within 4 million miles from the Sun – eight times closer than the Helios II craft.
Currently, the Messenger probe sent to study Mercury is an unmanned spacecraft in Mercury’s orbit, which is the closest planet to the sun. Due to the elliptical orbit of Mercury, the planet is on average approximately 36 million miles away from the sun but sometimes gets as close as 28.5 million miles.
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