Solar Orbiter is a mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric physics. It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme. The programme outlines key scientific questions which need to be answered about the development of planets and the emergence of life, how the Solar System works, the origins of the Universe, and the fundamental physics at work in the Universe. Solar Orbiter is an ESA-led mission with participation from NASA, who will contribute the launcher, one full instrument.
Astrium UK, is the leader of a group of European companies that have developed various service units for the spacecraft. The Solar Orbiter mproject is one of the largest expenditures ever approved between the ESA Science Program and a company. Ten scientific instruments have developed in ESA Member States and the United States. Principal Investigators come from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Solar Orbiter's has a titanium and carbon sandwich shield which was tested in a 15m high and 10m diameter large space simulator at ESTEC. The Solar Orbiter probe was launched on February 10, 2020, with an Atlas-5 rocket from Cape Canaveral on a highly elliptical orbit - aphelion 0.9 AU and perihelion 0.28 AU. More than 3 years after its launch, it will reach its operational trajectory through gravity assist manoeuvres (GAM) on Earth and Venus. GAMs near Venus will increase orbit deflection. In 2025 it will deflect 17 ° from the plane of the ecliptic, and 7 years after its release, to 24 °. This course allows measurements from the southern and northern regions of the sun for the first time in history, helping to understand how the Sun produces its magnetic field. Its orbital velocity will be such that its angular velocity is approximately the same as the rotation of the Sun axis, so you may observe the evolution of an outbreak for a longer period of time. The Solar Orbiter approaches the Sun 42 million kilometers - closer to it than the Mercury - while observing the solar wind in undistorted conditions.
SGF is a Co-Investigator involved in the development of EGSE for the magnetometer (MAG). The principal investigator is Tim Horbury of MAG instrument from Imperial College London. The magnetometer performs high-precision, in-situ measurements in the heliospheric magnetic field. This will allow to study how the sun's magnetic field interacts with space and how it changes in different solar cycles, and how particles emanating from the sun accelerate and propagate in the solar system, including the Earth, and how they warm and accelerate.
26 February 2020
Solar Orbiter at Sun
Accommodation of the scientific instruments
Test of the Solar Orbiter's Sunshield
Integration & test at IABG