A new space mission costing a whopping €1bn will take telescopes closer to the sun than ever before as it investigates its effects on satellite technology. The spacecraft, titled ‘Solar Orbiter’ (we at Koala Chess Art HQ feel they could have done more with this name) plans to take detailed images of the most famous star’s surface landscapes while also measuring its atmosphere. That's one small photograph for a man, one giant canvas for mankind - or something to that effect.
This man plans to race the Space Orbiter to the sun - who will win?
So, while we may have simplified this mission slightly, please do not assume it is an easy task. In fact, the trial run will take a whole year just to be on the safe side. Even Justin Byrne, Head of Science at Airbus, agrees, saying “It’s been one of the most challenging missions that we’ve ever developed.”
So what exactly is so complex about it?
Well, SolO (getting better) will have to fly within 43 million km of the sun’s surface. But first, it has to travel for 3 and a half years to reach its destination. Then once it arrives, it will encounter temperatures of up to 600C. That’s pretty toasty! But it’s not only hot temperatures that it will have to survive, as in deep space it can also reach -180C. As our Gran would say - best to use layers you can put on and take off quickly!
This pug is stargazing, but is also a spy for Gran to see if her instructions were followed
So, is such a risky mission worth it?
Yes of course - all in the name of science! SolO will (hopefully) be able to look down on the Sun’s poles, which is a first. And this is where the Sun’s magnetic field is at its most important. This field is central to its dynamics and drives all activity on the sun. The mission will also help scientists understand and predict the effects of solar wind and eruptions on communications systems here on Earth.
Taking off in February 2020, after suffering from a slight delay, the project is an iconic step forward in exploring a realm outside of our own home planet. We wish it the best of luck - bring us back a goody bag!
The sun is truly beautiful, isn't it? We recommend you go take your dog to the beach like this man here and experience its wonder for yourself