Solar Orbiter is a collaborative mission between the European Space Agency and NASA to
study the Sun, took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
• The mission, which will take the first pictures of the top and bottom of the sun, was
launched on an Atlas V rocket.
• It carries four in situ instruments to measure the space environment immediately around the
spacecraft like the sense of touch and Six remote-sensing imagers, which see the sun from
• The Solar Orbiter (called SolO) will face the sun at approximately 42 million kilometers from
The new spacecraft will use the gravity of Venus and Earth to swing itself out of the ecliptic
plane, passing inside the orbit of Mercury, and will be able to get a bird’s eye view of the
sun’s poles for the first time.
• In 1990, NASA and ESA had sent the Ulysses mission, which also passed over the sun’s
poles but at much farther distances, and did not carry a camera.
• Orbiter will take pictures using telescopes through a heat shield that is partly made of baked
animal bones, to help it withstand temperatures of up to 600 degree Celsius.
• The Orbiter will help scientists understand the sun’s dynamic behavior, and solve mysteries
such as the sunspot cycle, or why the star spews out high velocity charged particles through
the solar system.
• With more data on the global magnetic field of the star, scientists would be able to forecast
space weather events