In order to help us understand the giant bubble of plasma that surrounds the whole Solar System and how our stars are created and control the planets within it the Solar Orbiter will address big questions in Solar System science. It is an ESA sun mission with strong NASA participation that will take off from Cape Canaveral on February 6.
Due to launch in February 2020, Solar Orbiter, a new mission to the sun will perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun. It will allow scientists to study the Sun in much more detail than previously possible and to observe specific features for longer periods than can be reached by any spacecraft circling the Earth. In addition, Solar Orbiter will measure the solar wind close to the Sun and provide high-resolution images of the uncharted polar regions of the Sun.
Solar Orbiter will carry 10 state-of-the-art instruments. Of the Sun's atmosphere the corona as well as the solar disk, the remote sensing payloads will perform high-resolution imaging. In the vicinity of the orbiter, other instruments will measure the solar wind and the solar magnetic fields. This will give us the answer to how the Sun works, and how we can better predict periods of stormy space weather and provide unprecedented insight into the fact which are related to coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that the Sun throws towards the Earth from time to time.
"Studying the Sun up close, taking high-resolution images of the Sun's poles for the first time, and understanding the Sun-Earth connection” – ESA
The overall objective is to study fundamental physical processes common to solar, astrophysical and laboratory plasmas and to provide close-up views of the sun's high latitude regions. The Solar Orbiter will provide exactly the observations required.
The most highlighting objective of the Solar Orbiter mission is to address the central question of heliophysics. Achieving this objective is the next critical step in an overall strategy to address one of the fundamental questions in the Cosmic Vision theme: How does the Solar System work?
To this end, the Solar Orbiter will use a unique orbit and mission design, and a well-planned observational strategy to explore systematically combination of in-situ and remote-sensing instrumentation.
We hope for a successful launch of Solar Orbiter.