The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is undergoing important pre-launch tests at the IABG National Space Centre in Ottobrunn, Germany, ahead of its launch, scheduled for February 2020.
The mission will study the Sun, but first the spacecraft must pass vibration, acoustic and shock tests. This will ensure the spacecraft can withstand the stresses of lift off and the extreme environments it will encounter while in orbit around the Sun – from the coldness of space, 150 million km away, to temperatures up to 500 ºC reached when it will be a mere 46 million km away, closer than Mercury. Solar Orbiter is an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation. The spacecraft was built and is being tested by Airbus.