The spacecraft sent to the sun first came close to our mother star and this meeting was captured in impressive detail.
The European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft Solar Orbiter arrived at close proximity to the Sun (Perichelion) on March 26, about 48 million kilometers from the Sun, inside Mercury’s orbit.
At this distance the temperature reaches 500 degrees Celsius. Then in the perihelions the ship will move even closer to the sun.
As he approached, the ship saw the sun in a way we had never seen before – including a thrilling, hitherto unknown creature called the Hedgehog; Also photographed in detail the sun poles that are not visible to us.
The Solar Orbiter was the first to make observations with all ten of its instruments working together to provide a vast amount of information about the sun’s behavior, magnetic field, and sometimes chaotic weather, during which it explores matter in interplanetary space.
We already saw a detailed photo of this approach a few months ago, but this time, ESA is releasing a video of the event – our amazing star seen through the eyes of a ship.
The Solar Orbiter should make a big breakthrough in solar science, not just because it can show us parts of the sun that we cannot see. For example because the Earth moves around its equator around the Sun and therefore studying the poles is extremely difficult. Only sun-drenched ships can explore these regions.
Polar regions are considered to be extremely important for the sun’s magnetic fields, which play a huge role in solar activity. However, since it is so difficult to see the poles, we do not know what is happening there in the magnetic fields. With its own set of tools, Solar Orbiter offers unprecedented information about these unknown regions.
At the South Pole taken on March 30, he identified a region in which arcuate magnetic field lines from the sun loop.
Another thrilling creation is the “hedgehog” of the sun. The spacecraft also photographed it on March 30, and solar physicists are still trying to figure out what it is and how it is formed. Consists of a relatively small, approximately 25,000 km wide region that the spacecraft photographed in the extreme ultraviolet range to see the current activity there.
The activity is as follows: hot and less hot “drops” of solar gas are released from the corona (corona), ie from the atmosphere in all directions, like a hedgehog.
“The photos are really inspiring. “It will take years for the Solar Obiter to stop collecting data tomorrow,” said David Bergmans, a solar physicist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium.
The main purpose of the Solar Obiter is to determine what influence the sun has on the entire heliosphere, or the region of influence of the sun, which is defined by the solar wind and whose boundary is beyond Pluto’s orbit. The solar wind throws particles and magnetic fields into interplanetary space, which has a noticeable effect on the planets.
The closer the Solar Orbiter gets to the sun, the better it will know how the solar wind is coming. As he approached March 21, he noticed an energy particle leaking. For the first time more energetic particles appeared, followed by less energetic ones. This indicates that the particles were not formed even near the position of the Solar Orbiter, but in the vicinity of the solar surface.
Other instruments detected solar phenomena that could produce particles, accelerating in the direction of space; Including solar flares and coronal mass eruptions.
The sun is currently quite active, which means that the spacecraft will provide us with a lot of invaluable information about solar activity. By 2030, it will be approaching the Sun at least 14 times, including 40 million kilometers, for which it will fly over Venus and pick up speed from its gravity.
“It’s unbelievable that this is just the beginning of the mission, the first flight, we have really busy years ahead of us,” said Daniel Mueller, a researcher with the European Space Agency.
Prepared according to esa.int and ScienceAlert.