Fact Sheet

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.

News

News

Solar Orbiter's first images reveal 'campfires' on the Sun
16 July 2020

The first images from Solar Orbiter, a new Sun-observing mission by ESA and NASA, have revealed omnipresent miniature solar flares, dubbed 'campfires', near the surface of our closest star.

Solar Orbiter ready for science despite COVID-19 setbacks
29 June 2020

ESA's Solar Orbiter has successfully completed four months of painstaking technical verification, known as commissioning. Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the spacecraft is now ready to begin performing science as it continues its cruise towards the Sun.

Solar Orbiter makes first close approach to the Sun
15 June 2020

ESA's Sun-exploring mission Solar Orbiter has made its first close approach to the Sun on 15 June, getting as close as 77 million km to the star's surface, about half the distance between the Sun and Earth.

Solar Orbiter to pass through the tails of Comet ATLAS
29 May 2020

ESA's Solar Orbiter will cross through the tails of Comet ATLAS during the next few days. Although the recently launched spacecraft was not due to be taking science data at this time, mission experts have worked to ensure that the four most relevant instruments will be switched on during the unique encounter.

Space missions return to science
2 April 2020

After a brief shutdown of science instruments and a period in 'safe standby', ESA's planetary missions are getting back to what they do best, gathering science data from around the Solar System.

Watch online

Watch online

Replay: Solar Orbiter first image release
17 July 2020

Watch a replay of the press briefing from 16 July with Solar Orbiter mission experts, who presented the unique first images from ESA's new Sun-observing spacecraft.

Solar Orbiter Launch

Solar Orbiter Launch

Solar Orbiter launch replay
10 February 2020

Watch a replay of the live coverage of the launch of Solar Orbiter, ESA's new Sun-exploring spacecraft, which will look at our parent star from a completely new perspective. The spacecraft was launched by the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 10 February 2020.

Spotlight on ...

Spotlight on ...

Solar Orbiter launch media kit
27 January 2020

Download this interactive media kit to learn more about the launch of Solar Orbiter in February 2020 and the science goals of the mission.

Solar Orbiter's journey around the Sun
17 October 2019

Animation showing the trajectory of Solar Orbiter around the Sun, highlighting the gravity assist manoeuvres that will enable the spacecraft to change inclination to observe the Sun from different perspectives.

Spacecraft Testing

Spacecraft Testing

#5: Electric and magnetic fields under control for Solar Orbiter
23 September 2019

An important stage in the development of ESA's Solar Orbiter mission was completed between May and June, when a series of tests to validate the electromagnetic compatibility and magnetic properties was carried out on the spacecraft's flight model.

#4: Simulating zero gravity
2 August 2019Like most spacecraft, ESA's Solar Orbiter carries a number of deployable structures that play key roles in the success of its mission. Earlier this year, engineers completed a series of deployment tests on the spacecraft's antennas, instrument boom and solar arrays.
#3: Good vibes for Solar Orbiter
1 April 2019Having successfully completed its thermal-vacuum tests in December, Solar Orbiter has been subjected to a new series of arduous environmental tests at the IABG facility in Ottobrunn, Germany, including intense shaking of the spacecraft to ensure that it will survive the stress of launch.

Featured Publications

Featured Publications

ESA BR-345: Solar Orbiter - Facing the Sun
1 October 2019

Solar Orbiter is a mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric physics. It will address big questions in Solar System science to help us understand how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere. The spacecraft will provide close-up, high-latitude observations of the Sun to gain new information about the solar wind, the heliospheric...

9-Aug-2020 02:23 UT

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