Published: Tue, February 11, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA's Solar Orbiter is on its way to observe the Sun's poles

NASA's Solar Orbiter is on its way to observe the Sun's poles

"In the first two days after launch, Solar Orbiter will deploy its instrument boom and several antennas that will communicate with Earth and gather scientific data", the press release said.

Solar Orbiter will observe the Sun with high spatial resolution telescopes and capture observations in the environment directly surrounding the spacecraft to create a one-of-a-kind picture of how the Sun can affect the space environment throughout our solar system. Over the course of its mission, researchers plan to have the Solar Orbiter make 22 close approaches to the Sun.

The latest space mission meant to help us understand the Sun is now on its way after a Sunday night launch. "By the end of our Solar Orbiter mission, we will know more about the hidden force responsible for the Sun's changing behavior and its influence on our home planet than ever before".

Onboard is a heat shield and 10 instruments in total, including energy particle detectors, magnetometers, a solar wind plasma analyzer, an X-ray spectrometer/telescope, a spectral imaging device and a heliospheric imager.

After years of development, an exciting new scientific research spacecraft has launched on its journey to study our solar system's central player: the Sun.

Solar Orbiter was made in Europe, along with nine science instruments. They're hubs for the sun's magnetic field, flipping polarity every 11 years. NASA says the spacecraft's instruments can collect data on the solar material and measure it. It will eventually reach a distance as close as almost 26 million miles from the surface of the sun, which is around 72% of the distance between the sun and Earth.

From here, Solar Obiter embarks on a journey that will take just over a year and a half, and includes two passes near Venus and Earth to take advantage of its gravitational attraction to propel the spacecraft to its target destination while conserving so much fuel as possible.

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"Gravity assists from Earth and Venus will help swing the spacecraft out of the ecliptic plane, or the space that aligns with the sun's equator, so it can study the sun's poles from above and below", CNN writes.

Solar Orbiter seeks to resolve the physics of the stream of charged particles from the Sun.

After a brief delay in the planned launch window, Solar Orbiter blasted off into space at 4.03am GMT (11.03pm EST) on February 10.

Solar Orbiter was constructed in the United Kingdom by Airbus, lead by an worldwide collaboration of scientist from ESA. The European Space Operations Center in Germany will operate Solar Orbiter after launch.

Solar Orbiter won't be able to unlock those mysteries immediately.

Those who have been can surely attest to the visceral, sonic thrill of a live rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.

NASA's Solar Parker Probe is also on a mission to investigate the source of these solar winds, but will do so with a particular focus on the Sun's corona, or atmosphere, and how it accelerates and pushes them along. It took until now, however, for technology to allow elaborate spacecraft like Parker and Solar Orbiter to get close without being fried. Then please consider donating today to ensure that Eurasia Review can continue to be able to provide similar content.

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