Artist's impression of Solar Orbiter making a flyby at Earth.
Solar Orbiter will make one gravity assist flyby of Earth and numerous flybys of Venus over the course of its mission to adjust its orbit, bringing it closer to the Sun and also out of the plane of the Solar System to observe the Sun from progressively higher inclinations. This will result in the spacecraft being able to take the first ever images of the Sun’s polar regions, crucial for understanding how the Sun ‘works’.
Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA and NASA. 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. It is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA in February 2020.