Solar Orbiter observed the Sun like no one had seen it before!

The pictures are really breathtaking says David Berghmans, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, and chief investigator of Extreme Ultraviolet Imager, who takes high solution of corona sol. It is in these terms that Press release from the European Space Agency (ESA) which presents the first results and data for the passage of the Solar Orbiter probe as close as possible Sun. Launched in February 2020the probe made its first dense perihelion on March 26 at just 0.32 AUor about 48 million kilometers.

The pictures are really breathtaking

David Berghmans’ enthusiasm is understandable. During this passage, the 10 instruments on board recorded unprecedented data, and the probe got a breathtaking view of the solar poles as well as a curious “hedgehog” that stretches over 25,000 kilometers and presents a host of peaks of hot gases and cold in all directions. After bonfirecame the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager team on a rather surprising word for a solar phenomenon.

The whole challenge for the researchers on the mission will be to cross-reference the data from the remote sensing instruments (remote observation of the Sun’s activity) and the data from the instruments in situ which analyzes the probe’s environment where the streams of solar particles arrive. In other words, make the connection between what the probe sees and what the probe “feels”.

The Solar Orbiter mission has not yet been completed and we can already say that the scientific objectives will be met. When the probe launches in 2020, the goal is better understoodstar we live with, giving an unprecedented insight into how it works and how it affects the spatial environment around the Earth and beyond. Its main purpose is to better understand the connection between the Sun andthe heliospherethis zone in the form of an elongated bubble formed by solvinde, plasma of charged particles constantly emitted by the Sun. These scientific successes are also technological successes. Because approaching so close to the Sun and looking at it directly was akin to an unprecedented technological venture when the probe was designed.

And also there the bet is won. By venturing only about 48 million kilometers from the Sun, the Solar Orbiter was exposed to temperatures of about 500 to 600 ° C! Well protected by the probe’s heat shield, all instruments were able to function normally. This close perihelion of March 26 is a real success for the Solar Orbiter mission, confirms Desi Raulin, Solar Orbiter Project Manager at Cnes: ” the French scientists are very happy with the result because they were able to collect a lot of data. All instruments work perfectly. It is a real relief that the space probe has acquired so much data through its instruments and with such high resolution quality. “.

Lay the foundation for a reliable and accurate system capable of predicting solar phenomena

Solar Orbiter also aims to contribute to the creation of a genuine meteorology spatial. And here, too, the bet is won. By combining data from all of the probe’s instruments, scientists are able to understand how solar activity works from the Sun’s surface to the Solar Orbiter and beyond. This knowledge is exactly what will pave the way for a future system for predicting space weather conditions on Earth in real time. The Solar Orbiter approached the perihelion and even got a glimpse of how such a system works!

On March 10, there was a bounce of lot coronal passed through the probe. His magnetometer on board predicted it would hit Earth several hours later. The news on social media kept sky-watchers ready for the aurora sightings, which took place about 18 hours later than expected.

This experiment gave the Solar Orbiter insight into real-time prediction of space weather on Earth. Such an effort is becoming increasingly important because of the threat posed by space weather to technology, to low-activity human activity, and to future lunar and Mars exploration missions.

Solar Orbiter confirms Vigil’s interest. This mission from the European Space Agency will be launched in the 2025 horizon to Lagrange point number 5. From this place, Vigil will be able to study all extreme and unpredictable solar events, even before they occur, noticeable from Earth, such as . solar flare and “coronal mass ejections,” and before they strike it.

This perihelion was therefore a great success and generated a large amount of data. And as ESA points out, this is just a foretaste of what’s coming! In October, the probe will get even closer to the Sun, only 0.29 times the Earth-Sun distance.

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