ESA’s Solar Orbiter is launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in February 2020. The mission will answer some of the biggest questions in solar science. What drives the solar wind and how does space weather impact the Earth? What controls the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle? How is the magnetic field generated inside the Sun? Solar Orbiter will unlock the secrets of how our star works by combining in situ and remote sensing observations. It will use Venus gravity assists to fly out of the ecliptic plane to study the Sun at high latitudes, and it will provide the first images of the Sun’s poles. Solar Orbiter will bring Europe to within the orbit of Mercury for the first time, to face the Sun and understand how our life-giving star influences the entire Solar System.
Solar Orbiter is an ESA mission with strong NASA participation.
Spacecraft artist impressions: ESA/ATG medialab
Magnetic field animation: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Solar flare video: SOHO (ESA & NASA)
Aurora video: ESA