Here comes the Sun! ESA’s new Sun-exploring mission Solar Orbiter lofted to space aboard the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA’s spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 04:03 GMT (05:03 CET) on 10 February 2020.
Above: Launch of the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission to study the Sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Feb. 9, 2020. Credit NASA/ Jared Frankle
Here’s everything you need to know:
Solar Orbiter, an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation, carries a set of ten instruments for imaging the surface of the Sun and studying the environment in its vicinity.
The spacecraft will travel around the Sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it as close as 42 million km away from the Sun’s surface, about a quarter of the distance between the Sun and Earth. The orbit will allow Solar Orbiter to see some of the never-before-imaged regions of the Sun, including the poles, and shed new light on what gives rise to solar wind, which can affect infrastructure on Earth.
Images credit NASA-ESA
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