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NASA-ESA Solar Orbiter Spacecraft

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

NASA-ESA Solar Orbiter Spacecraft:


Context:

NASA and European Space Agency’s spacecraft has captured the first solar eruption on the Sun’s surface. These eruptions are also known as coronal mass ejections (CME).

  • If these eruptions on the Sun’s surface are big enough, they can cause billions of tons of plasma and electrically charged particles to dash towards Earth.

About NASA-ESA Solar Orbiter Spacecraft:

Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA.

  • The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in February 2020.
  • It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.
  • This is the first mission that will provide images of the sun’s north and south poles using a suite of six instruments on board that will capture the spacecraft’s view.
  • It is a seven-year mission and will come within 26 million miles of the sun.
  • It will be able to brave the heat of the sun because it has a custom titanium heat shield coated in calcium phosphate so that it can endure temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Solar Orbiter follows the Ulysses spacecraft, another collaboration between ESA and NASA that launched in 1990.

Solar Orbiter will set about answering four top-level science questions:

  1. What drives the solar wind and where does the coronal magnetic field originate from?
  2. How do solar transients drive heliospheric variability?
  3. How do solar eruptions produce energetic particle radiation that fills the heliosphere?
  4. How does the solar dynamo work and drive connections between the Sun and the heliosphere?

Other solar missions:

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope.
  2. What are radio waves?
  3. Different layers of sun?
  4. What are solar flares?
  5. What are Sunspots?
  6. About Sun’s Corona.

Sources: NASA.