Solar Orbiter, Esa: A first greeting from the path to the sun

As the "Solar Orbiter" and the European space Agency Esa on 10. February started from the American spaceport Cape Canaveral in the direction of the sun, could

Solar Orbiter, Esa: A first greeting from the path to the sun

As the "Solar Orbiter" and the European space Agency Esa on 10. February started from the American spaceport Cape Canaveral in the direction of the sun, could see no-one to predict under what unusual circumstances the Mission would have to take her early. The commissioning and first Tests of the ten scientific instruments on Board the probe, with the help of the sun's activity and the effect should be understood in the interplanetary Medium of our solar system better, had to be done under the massive restrictions on the Covid-19-pandemic: home office, travel restrictions, distance of the commandments.

Sibylle Anderl

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"in The beginning everything was normal. Then the Lockdown came, and the instruments were more or less on Standby. We were at this point very worried," said Sami Solanki, scientific Director of the "Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager"Instruments (Phi) from the göttingen Max-Planck-Institute for solar system research, in the framework of an Esa press conference. However, the international Team managed to overcome these challenges. All instruments - six telescopes and four instruments that measure the conditions at the location of the probe - able, as planned, will start operating.

As a picture greeting from the end of the initial test phase, the Esa presented the first images of the sun from a distance of 77 million kilometres. This corresponds to about half the distance between the sun and the earth. Never before our home star was observed from a shorter distance. The recordings of particularly short-wave ultraviolet spectral range, work camera "Extreme Ultraviolet Imager" (EUI), show previously unseen structures, such as those related to the visible from earth, very much larger solar flares could act. These "Nano-Flares" could make a decisive contribution to the heating of the more than one Million degree hot corona – a phenomenon that is not completely understood. The images showed a part of the "quiet" corona, where not much really happens, reported David Bergh Mans, senior research scientist at the EUI. The variety of observed structures was unexpected. to be able to

this first set of results, continue to pursue the ways of functioning and to understand the effect of the sun is better be taken in the coming years, a variety of data – both from cameras as well as "in-situ"measurements at the location of the probe are available, which are complementary in their information content to each other: While the cameras monitor the processes in the outermost regions of the sun, deliver the "in-situ"measurements, information about the magnetic field and the solar wind some distance away. The effect of solar processes on the surrounding Medium can be directly set in relation to each other.

in Addition, a further solar probe is currently supplying complementary data: The in 2018, launched "Parker Solar Probe" (PSP) of the American space Agency Nasa is moving in even less distance than the European probe to the sun. Up to about ten solar radii it approaches our home star. Unlike the Solar Orbiter the PSP but does not have imaging instruments on Board but only "in situ"measurements, since the cameras could withstand the extreme conditions in the outermost regions of the sun. The Esa probe will be able to work, therefore, as "the eye" of the PSP.

The "Solar Orbiter" will be closer on the basis of fly-by maneuvers at earth and Venus to the sun more. In March 2022, it will have its current distance to the sun is once again halved. Its orbit will then move further and further from the Ecliptic to allow, finally, for the first Time, a look at the poles of the sun. In this respect, these first images were seen only as a prelude to, noticed Daniel Müller, Esa project scientist for the Mission: "We are really excited about these new recordings – but this is only the beginning. The Solar Orbiter has begun a great journey through the inner solar system and the sun will come within the next two years is still very much closer. Finally, the distance is 42 million km, which is almost a quarter of the distance between the sun and the earth.“

Updated Date: 16 July 2020, 15:20

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