Highlights from the preparation and liftoff of ESA’s Sun-exploring mission Solar Orbiter.
Solar Orbiter lofted to space aboard the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA’s spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 04:03 GMT (05:03 CET) on February 10, 2020 (11:03 p.m. EST, on February 9, 2020.)
An ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation, Solar Orbiter carries a set of ten instruments for imaging the surface of the Sun and studying the environment in its vicinity. The spacecraft will travel around the Sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it as close as 42 million km away from the Sun’s surface, about a quarter of the distance between the Sun and Earth. The orbit will allow Solar Orbiter to see some of the never-before-imaged regions of the Sun, including the poles, and shed new light on what gives rise to solar wind, which can affect infrastructure on Earth.