Engineers have completed their testing of ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft in preparation for launch early next year.
Equipped with a suite of ten instruments, Solar Orbiter will capture the closest ever pictures of our star, the first images of its poles, and make detailed observations of solar activity. Its specially designed heatshield is capable of enduring temperatures of more than 500 degrees Celsius.
Over the past year, Solar Orbiter has been undergoing a series of rigorous tests at the IABG test centre near Munich, Germany. The spacecraft is due to be packed into an Antonov cargo plane on 31 October for shipping to Florida. Launch on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, is planned for February 2020.