Mission

Solar Orbiter will study the Sun close and from high latitudes, providing the first images of the Sun's poles and investigating the heliosphere.

The ESA Solar Orbiter mission is designed to determine how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere. The spacecraft will bring a combination of in-situ and remote-sensing instruments  out of the ecliptic (> 30 deg) and close to the Sun (< 0.3 Rsun), to answer the following four questions:

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

 

Partnerships

Solar Orbiter logo Solar Orbiter is an ESA mission with strong NASA participation.
NASA contributes the launcher and particpates in the science payload.

Spacecraft

Solar Orbiter rendering
  • Launch mass: 1800kg
  • Science payload mass: 209kg
  • Body: 2.5m x 3.1m x 2.7m
  • Total length with solar arrays deployed 18m
  • Solar panels: 6, each 2.1 x 1.2m
  • Payload power 180W
  • Instrument boom: 4.4m
  • 3 x radio and plasma waves antennas: 6.5m each

Heat Shield

A specially designed black heatshield will protect the spacecraft and its instruments from the heat of the Sun. The spacecraft has been tested to withstand temperatures up to 500C. It will endure 13 times the amount of solar heating that satellites in Earth's orbit experience.

Source: ESA Solar Orbiter Factsheet

Solar Orbiter Spacecraft