The Solar Orbiter mission will be launched on February 7. The mission is collaboration between the European Space Agency and the US space agency NASA. The orbiter will perform close observations of the north and south poles of the Sun. It is difficult to see the polar regions of the Sun from Earth. The mission will be useful in determining how Sun creates and control the heliosphere. The orbiter will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft has been designed to use the gravity of Earth and Venus to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane. Venus is the second planet from the Sun.
According to NASA, the Solar Orbiter will make a close approach to the Sun every five months. The new spacecraft will give the first-ever view of the Sun from above. Once the spacecraft is placed in its proper orbit, it will click and send the first-ever images of the north and south poles of the Sun. The space agency said the orbiter is equipped with all the latest and solar measuring instruments to click high-resolution images. It will also observe the magnetic activity building up in the atmosphere. Researchers hope the findings will help answer many questions and contribute to the success of future space programs.
Scientists say that seeing the Sun’s north and south poles is important for forecasting space weather events more accurately. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission is already performing measurements of the Sun’s extended corona. The only past spacecraft to fly over the Sun’s poles was Ulysses. It was also a joint venture by NASA and ESA. It was launched in 1990. The spacecraft made three passes around the Sun. It was decommissioned in 2009. Ulysses was never gone close to the Sun than Earth distance. The Solar Orbiter will have the closest Sun-facing cameras. The magnetic field of Sun stretches far beyond Pluto. Pluto is the largest known dwarf planet.