Sun explorer spacecraft launches successfully
The European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter, which carries instruments proposed, designed and built at UCL, launched on 10 February 2020 from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 4 am UK time. The mission will take the most detailed images ever of the Sun and provide crucial information about how our star’s volatile activity affects its atmosphere. This knowledge will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites.
Over the course of its mission, the Solar Orbiter spacecraft will use the gravity of Venus to slingshot it out of the ecliptic plane of the Solar System, giving us new perspectives on our parent star. It will follow an elliptical orbit around the Sun, passing within the orbit of Mercury at its closest.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/feb/sun-explorer-spacecraft-launches-successfully)
(Image: Solar Orbiter liftoff. Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja)