The European Space Agency (ESA) Launches the Solar Orbiter
The European Space Agency (ESA) Launches the Solar Orbiter
Source Jared Frankie NASA
13 February, 2020, 19:44
Solar Orbiter's head-on views should finally yield a full 3D view of the sun, 150 million kilometres from our home planet. The cruise phase includes three gravity assists that Solar Orbiter will use to draw its orbit closer to the Sun: two past Venus in December 2020 and August 2021, and one past Earth in November 2021.
Solar Orbiter's unique orbit will bring the spacecraft out of the plane that roughly aligns with the Sun's equator where Earth and the other planets orbit.
There are 10 specific scientific instruments that the Solar Orbiter uses, and they are used to measure the magnetic fields and particles of the solar wind. During the nominal mission of seven years, this will see it reach a latitude of 25 degrees, where it will collect images and data of the Sun's polar regions that have never been gathered before.
Furthermore, the chief scientist at the UK Space Agency, Mr. Chris Lee goes on by stating that the Solar Orbiter is the most important UK space-science mission for a generation. All of these instruments had to be hardened to withstand not only those extremely high temperatures from the Orbiter's closest approach to the Sun, but also down to almost -300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is an incredible engineering challenge when you're dealing with instrumentation created to detect very fine detail.
The orbiter is kitted out with 10 scientific instruments and aims to take the first-ever high resolution pictures of the sun's poles. All going to plan, the probe will be the first to study the Sun's north and south poles, offering a new perspective on our star and the solar winds that it sends blowing out into space. Expected to enter orbit around the Sun within two years, the probe will take up a highly elliptical orbit that will enable it to study the Sun in ways that no spacecraft has before. But while Parker samples particles from up close, Solar Orbiter will snap photos from far away to heighten observations. Not long after, mission controllers in Germany confirmed that the spacecraft was well on its way.
It was a successful beginning of a NASA-European Space Agency partnership project.
"Solar Orbiter is going to do unbelievable things".
"Combined with the other recently launched NASAmissions to study the Sun, we are gaining unprecedented new knowledge about our star". "The Inouye Solar Telescope is a microscope on the sun", Valentin Martínez Pillet, director of the National Solar Observatory, which runs the facility, told Space.com. This will place the spacecraft's imaging equipment at an "ideal distance to get a comprehensive view of the sun and its surrounding atmosphere". The discoveries it makes could help us better understand how the Sun affects the solar system. NASA is an accomplice on the crucial, one instrument, called the Heliospheric Imager, just as parts for different instruments and the launch itself.
Solar Orbiter launched on an Atlas V 411 configuration vehicle including a 4-meter payload fairing (PLF) and standing 189 ft. tall.
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