ESA title

Solar Orbiter is the most complex scientific laboratory ever to have been sent to the Sun. Although our life-giving star has been an object of scientific interest for centuries, its behaviour still presents a puzzle for scientists. Solar Orbiter will take images of the Sun from closer than any spacecraft before and for the first time look at its uncharted polar regions. By combining observations from Solar Orbiter’s six remote-sensing instruments and four sets of in situ instruments, scientists hope to find answers to some profound questions: What drives the Sun’s 11-year cycle of rising and subsiding magnetic activity? What heats up the upper layer of its atmosphere, the corona, to millions of degrees Celsius? What drives the generation of the solar wind? What accelerates the solar wind to speeds of hundreds of kilometres per second? And how does it all affect our planet?

Launch date: February 2020

Completed milestones: First images released in July 2020

Beginning of routine science operations: November 2021

Mission highlights: The closest ever images of the Sun, the first ever close-up images of the Sun’s polar regions, measuring the composition of the solar wind and linking it to its area of origin on the Sun’s surface.

The closest distance to the Sun: 42 million kilometres.

Solar Orbiter

Latest

  • Agency

    Solar Orbiter: Answering the big questions

    22/01/2020 820 views 6 likes
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    Solar Orbiter: Answering the big questions
  • Agency

    Solar Orbiter: Operating in extreme environments

    22/01/2020 855 views 9 likes
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    Solar Orbiter: Operating in extreme environments
  • Agency

    Solar Orbiter: journey around the Sun

    27/01/2020 2806 views 39 likes
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    Solar Orbiter: journey around the Sun
  • Agency

    Extreme exploration with Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe

    22/01/2020 860 views 6 likes
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    Extreme exploration with Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe

About Solar Orbiter