Solar Orbiter: ESA and NASA launch successfully

The solar probe Solar Orbiter started successfully from Cape Canaveral on Monday night and has already extended its solar panels. This was announced by the space agencies ESA and NASA, which are responsible for the probe.

Together with NASA's Parker Solar Probe, this second probe will soon explore our star and take pictures of its poles for the first time. To this end, the probe will catapult itself further and further out of the level of the solar system in the coming years, which will make unprecedented insights possible in addition to the highly anticipated measurements. The approximately 1.8-tonne probe took off shortly after 5 a.m.CET on board a Atlas V 411 rocket from the United Launch Alliance.

Artist's impression of the solar orbiter and the sun

(Image: ESA)

The Solar Orbiter was developed jointly by the European Space Agency ESA and the US space agency NASA and is intended to explore the sun up close for ten years. It will not come as close to it as the Parker Solar Probe that has already arrived there, but will decisively supplement the data it has collected. The scientists are particularly concerned with the solar wind and how it changes depending on certain events on the sun's surface. This is not only basic research, but should also help to be able to better predict space weather in the future, Because violent eruptions on the sun can also have serious consequences on earth, for example in aviation.

In the course of the approximately 1.5 billion euro mission, the solar orbiter is to approach the sun up to 42 million kilometers and will be exposed to immense radiation. The heat shield of the probe is therefore designed to withstand up to 500 degrees Celsius. Only small windows are then opened so that the instruments can target the sun. The probe is controlled from the ESA control center in Darmstadt, and the scientific management is in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain. On board, the probe has a total of 10 instruments, which both take measurements remotely and are intended to analyze the immediate surroundings of the Solar Orbiter.


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