NASA Will Start Another Mission to the Sun Very Soon

Although we see our sun daily and we are well aware of its tremendous energy, we sometimes forget its crucial importance in the sustaining of life on Earth. The “day” by definition wouldn’t be possible without the sun, which provides energy for us all to exist and enjoy life.

Therefore, understanding as much as possible how our sun works has to be a primordial thing for astronomers. NASA will collaborate with ESA (European Space Agency) to launch the Solar Orbiter atop of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on February 5. The liftoff will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

42 million km from the sun

This is the distance from the sun where the Solar Orbiter will be positioned.  Although it sounds like a huge distance, you would never want to be that close to the sun.

Holly Gilbert, the project scientist for Solar Orbiter, stated the following:

We’ve never been able to image the poles of the sun,

That is extremely important for helioseismology, but also for looking at the global magnetic field of the sun. In order to model space weather activity and activity in general on the sun, we need that full global picture of the magnetic field.

The Solar Orbiter is equipped with 10 instruments destined to explore our star in various ways. The scientists from NASA and ESA want to understand how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere. Also, the spacecraft will be gathering information about the solar energetic particles, solar wind, transient interplanetary disturbances, the heliospheric magnetic field and the sun’s magnetic field.

We can only look forward with enthusiasm for the upcoming mission and hope that it will open new ways for scientists to explore our star in the future. Maybe even spacecraft capable of resisting right at the surface of the sun, by any chance?

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