QR.bizNewsSolar Orbiter launched to take first pictures of Sun's poles

Solar Orbiter launched to take first pictures of Sun's poles

The ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission will face the Sun from within the orbit of Mercury at its closest approach. "It's a fantastic moment.it's like, well, we're unstoppable". In contrast, the Parker Solar Probe launched in 2018 orbits much closer to the sun, dipping into the sun's outer atmosphere. This particular characteristic of the solar covers all of the sun device with sun debris. After launch, Orbiter should make its way to Venus for a flyby this December, then cost paths with Earth for a planned approach in November, 2021, before making its first close approach to the Sun in 2022.

"The two together are really ideal", said Guenther Hasinger, ESA's director of science.

Astronomers are also hoping that with the information the Solar Orbiter will be gathering, predictions of solar storms will be significantly improved. NASA provided the 10th instrument and arranged the late-night launch from Cape Canaveral. The Atlas V used for this launch was configured with a payload fairing 13 feet in diameter to accommodate the Orbiter, and used a single solid rocket motor to provide the necessary propulsive power. Crowds also jammed nearby roads and beaches.

The first stage was set to burn for about four minutes, while the second stage would carry the satellite for nearly an hour after liftoff until it hit an escape velocity of 27,000 mph.

"This was picture flawless. I think we're going to succeed", added Holly Gilbert, director of NASA's heliophysics science division.

NASA declared success one and a half hours later, once the Solar Orbiter's solar wings were unfurled.

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft was launched tonight to begin a seven-year, $1.5 billion mission aimed at studying the sun and its mysterious magnetic field from an unprecedented vantage point. But it doesn't fly anywhere near the poles. Needless to say, the Solar Orbiter team is ecstatic.

The poles of the sun have dark, constantly changing coronal holes.

Every 11 years, the Sun's poles flip: north becoming south and vice versa. "That's where all the fast solar wind comes from ... It really is a completely different view". They'll be protected in part by a heat shield made of titanium and covered with a calcium phosphate coating that will absorb most of the 1,000-degree temperatures, however, resulting in a more tolerable range of between 4 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the actual instruments themselves. It can withstand temperatures up to almost 530 C.

All but one of the spacecraft's telescopes will peep out through holes in the heat shield that open and close in a carefully orchestrated dance, while other instruments will work behind the shadow of the shield.

The observations will shed light on other stars and provide clues about the potential habitability of worlds in other solar systems. This knowledge will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites and infrastructure on Earth.

Count down to launch of Solar Orbiter mission to study Sun's poles

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