June 28, 2022

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The Solar Orbiter is located halfway between the Sun and the Earth

The Solar Orbiter is located halfway between the Sun and the Earth

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and NASA, is officially located halfway between our planet and the Sun. ESA . ​​statementThe spacecraft is currently 46.6 million miles from our host star.

Solar Orbiter began its science observations in November 2021 and will continue as it approaches the Sun. checkered crown.

Due to its apparent location between the Earth and the Sun, the probe provides researchers with a unique opportunity to study space weather. Space weather is a characteristic feature of the solar wind, which is a continuous stream of charged particles from the sun that generates auroras and sometimes Electronics break down on the floor.

The Solar Orbiter takes a crooked path to the Sun, but (in contrast) saves energy by doing so. The probe takes advantage of the gravity of Earth and Venus to project itself inward. In addition to an excellent presentation Photo Opportunitiesthese gravity-assisted maneuvers reduce the amount of fuel needed to propel a spacecraft, saving valuable payload space.

Nearly 50 million miles on an odometer doesn’t sound like much, until you remember it The Webb Telescope only had to walk a million miles To your observation point in deep space.

Image for the article titled Solar Orbiter is now located halfway between the Sun and Earth

The orbiter’s current proximity to the Earth and the sun allows it to collect useful data on how the solar wind blows through our solar system. Combine solar vehicle observations with data from spacecraft such as iris (in Earth’s orbit) and ESA SOHO (about a million miles from Earth) will provide a more complete picture of the wind; Like floats in a sea of ​​solar particles, the scattered spacecraft will provide a dynamic view of space weather.

“As of this moment, we are entering the unknown when it comes to Solar Orbiter observations of the Sun,” Daniel Muller, ESA’s Solar Orbiter project scientist, said in a statement.

The orbit will approach its closest point, 26 million miles from the sun, on March 26. From March 14 to April 6, it will be inside the orbit of Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. While there (as before), the probe will collect data about the sun’s surface and what it spits out into space, but the European Space Agency researchers hope the spacecraft’s proximity to the sun will provide some unique insights into solar flares. Discover in 2020. last year The Scientists suggested That the fires may be converging magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun, but the situation remains unresolved.

“What I’m most looking forward to is whether or not all of these dynamic features we see in the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (polished campfire) can make their way into the solar wind. There are many of them!” said Louise Harra, a physicist at the Physical Meteorological Observatory in Davos, Switzerland and co-principal investigator for extreme ultraviolet imaging.

Soon after the spacecraft reaches its closest approach later this month, we should receive some of the closest images of the Sun ever captured.

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