Solar Orbiter Captures Closest Images of Sun

The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have released the Images of the sun taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager and Extreme Ultraviolet Imager of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft are seen in a combination of photos released by NASA, July 16, 2020.The campfires could help explain why the corona, the Sun’s upper atmosphere, is 300 times hotter than the solar surface.Of the Solar Orbiter’s 10 instruments, six are imaging devices, each studying a different aspect of the sun.The Solar and Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) exposed zodiacal light — light from the sun reflecting off interplanetary dust. To capture it, the imager had to dim the sun’s light to one-trillionth of its normal brightness.The Polar and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) mapped the sun’s magnetic field. Four instruments meant for measuring the space environment immediately surrounding the spacecraft yielded data about the presence of carbon, oxygen, silicon and other heavy ions in the solar wind from the inner heliosphere.Although the coronavirus pandemic forced mission control at the European Space Operations Center in Germany to close down for more than a week, and all but essential personnel worked from home, the ESA and NASA were ready for the first solar pass in June.“We didn’t expect such great results so early,” said Daniel Muller, ESA’s Solar Orbiter project scientist. “These images show that the Solar Orbiter is off to an excellent start.”“This is just the beginning of the long epic journey of Solar Orbiter,” Muller said.

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