Visualisation showing the thrusters adjust the attitude of Solar Orbiter before the solar arrays are deployed following launch. The deployment happens in two stages: the first part takes place about five minutes after separation and is spring-driven, unfolding the solar arrays to about 40% within four minutes. The second part is motorised, and will fully extend the solar arrays. This part takes about ten minutes. The solar arrays will be fully deployed by about 40 minutes after spacecraft separation.
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.