This visualisation begins by showing small sliding doors in Solar Orbiter’s heatshield opening to allow the internally-mounted remote-sensing instruments to observe the Sun. Special windows block out heat to protect the instruments during operations. The doors are closed when the instruments are not observing. The animation continues with an artistic impression of Solar Orbiter facing the Sun. At its closest approach, Solar Orbiter will operate from within the orbit of Mercury.
Solar Orbiter is an ESA mission with strong NASA participation. Its mission is to perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun and from high-latitudes, providing the first images of the uncharted polar regions of the Sun, and investigating the Sun-Earth connection. Launch is currently scheduled for 5 February 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US.