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
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter releases first data to the public

30/09/2020 9005 views 56 likes
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Solar Orbiter
Science & Exploration

The closest camera to the Sun

07/09/2020 1530 views 16 likes
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Solar Orbiter’s first view of the Sun
Science & Exploration

Secrets for Solar Orbiter to solve

04/09/2020 782 views 9 likes
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Solar Orbiter
Science & Exploration

Why we need Solar Orbiter

02/09/2020 451 views 5 likes
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Solar Orbiter’s first view of the Sun
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter’s first images reveal ‘campfires’ on the Sun

16/07/2020 83423 views 174 likes
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Solar Orbiter’s first views of the Sun
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter's first views of the Sun: image gallery

16/07/2020 106817 views 280 likes
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Science & Exploration

Watch Solar Orbiter first image release

14/07/2020 19419 views 92 likes
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Solar Orbiter Instruments
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter ready for science despite COVID-19 setbacks

29/06/2020 5891 views 60 likes
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Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter makes first close approach to the Sun

15/06/2020 33901 views 207 likes
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Hubble observation of Comet ATLAS on 23 April 2020
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter to pass through the tails of Comet ATLAS

29/05/2020 11132 views 87 likes
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Science & Exploration

Where is Solar Orbiter? Track ESA’s Sun explorer

28/05/2020 5550 views 54 likes
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Perspective view of Korolev crater
Enabling & Support

Space missions return to science

02/04/2020 6164 views 71 likes
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The inner Solar System
Science & Exploration

ESA scales down science mission operations amid pandemic

24/03/2020 7871 views 60 likes
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Magnetic field measurements during Solar Orbiter boom deployment
Science & Exploration

First Solar Orbiter instrument sends measurements

17/02/2020 7680 views 57 likes
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Solar Orbiter boom and antenna deployments
Enabling & Support

Solar Orbiter braves challenging early days

14/02/2020 7413 views 140 likes
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Science & Exploration

Liftoff for Solar Orbiter, ESA’s mission to face the Sun up…

10/02/2020 8871 views 52 likes
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Solar Orbiter
Enabling & Support

Here comes the Sun!

07/02/2020 3032 views 27 likes
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Solar Orbiter launch - fairing separation
Science & Exploration

Watch Solar Orbiter launch live

06/02/2020 15415 views 59 likes
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Solar Orbiter's orbit brings the Sun's poles into view
Enabling & Support

Flying solo

01/02/2020 5950 views 61 likes
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Science & Exploration

Call for Media: Solar Orbiter launch to face the Sun

31/01/2020 4488 views 8 likes
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Solar Orbiter facing the Sun close up
Enabling & Support

Warming up for the Sun

30/01/2020 3284 views 50 likes
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Solar Orbiter thermal testing
Enabling & Support

Paint it black: Stone Age sunscreen for Solar Orbiter

28/01/2020 4001 views 47 likes
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Solar Orbiter imaging the Sun
Enabling & Support

Shielding Solar Orbiter from the Sun

28/01/2020 2002 views 39 likes
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Solar Orbiter
Science & Exploration

Orbiting the Sun together

23/12/2019 13047 views 111 likes
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Solar Orbiter launch campaign begins
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter launch campaign begins

21/11/2019 3983 views 37 likes
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Solar Orbiter at IABG
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter ready to depart Europe

18/10/2019 4072 views 81 likes
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Parker Solar Probe
Science & Exploration

Teamwork with Parker Solar Probe

07/10/2019 3309 views 27 likes
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Science & Exploration

Launching and operating Solar Orbiter

07/10/2019 1132 views 10 likes
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Science & Exploration

Technical challenges of flying too close to the Sun

07/10/2019 837 views 12 likes
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Solar Orbiter
Science & Exploration

Call for Media: Last chance to view Europe’s Solar Orbiter

03/10/2019 2717 views 25 likes
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Agency

ESA BR-345 Solar Orbiter: Facing the Sun

01/10/2019 3725 views 22 likes
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