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Publication archive

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 will perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun and from high-latitudes, providing the first images of the uncharted polar regions of the Sun, and investigating the Sun-Earth connection.


  • Introduction
  • How to use this media kit
  • Event programme
  • How to follow the launch online
  • What’s new
  • Answering the big questions
  • Operating in extreme environments
  • Instruments
  • Launch and deployment sequence
  • Journey around the Sun
  • Extreme exploration with Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe
  • Anatomy of the Sun
  • Missions studying the Sun
  • Meet the Sun
  • Solar Orbiter team
  • Selected multimedia
  • Media services

To open the pdf file (16 MB) click on the image or on the link to publication below.

Published: 27 January 2020
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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 giant bubble of plasma that surrounds the whole Solar System and influences Earth and the other planets within it. The spacecraft will provide close-up, high-latitude observations of the Sun to gain new information about the solar wind, the heliospheric magnetic field, solar energetic particles, transient interplanetary disturbances and the Sun's magnetic field.


  • Living with a star
  • Exploring our Sun
  • Anatomy of our Sun
  • Preparing for extreme environments
  • How Solar Orbiter will study the Sun
  • Launching and operating Solar Orbiter
  • Teamwork with Parker Solar Probe
  • An international enterprise
Published: 01 October 2019
The heliosphere represents a uniquely accessible domain of space, where fundamental physical processes common to solar, astrophysical and laboratory plasmas can be studied under conditions impossible to reproduce on Earth and unfeasible to observe from astronomical distances. Solar Orbiter, the first mission of ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015 - 2025 programme, will address the central question of heliophysics: How does the Sun create and control the heliosphere? In this paper, we present the scientific goals of the mission and provide an overview of the mission implementation.
Published: 02 June 2013
Reference: ESA/SRE(2011)14

This report, the so-called Red Book, presents an overview of the Solar Orbiter mission in its present state of advanced definition. Solar Orbiter is a medium-size (M-class) mission of the ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme, and competes for one of the two launch slots foreseen in 2017 and 2018.

Published: 26 July 2011
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the Solar Orbiter candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission. Note: This report has been superseded by the Solar Orbiter definition study report (Red Book), released in July 2011, which is linked from the right-hand menu.
Published: 01 December 2009
Reference: SRE-PA/2009/90

This technical review report for the Solar Orbiter candidate mission presents the outcome of ESA's internal review of this M-class candidate mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. The review was concluded at the end of the mission assessment phase and carried out in frame of the down-selection to 3 or 4 M-class missions, which will proceed to the definition phase. The main goal of this internal review was to identify the mission's critical issues and associated risks at technical, programmatic and financial level.

Note: This report has been superseded by the Solar Orbiter definition study report (Red Book), released in July 2011, which is linked from the right-hand menu.
Published: 01 October 2009
Report of the Joint Science and Technology Definition Team (JSTDT)
Published: 06 October 2007
The Solar Orbiter mission is part of ESA's science program, Cosmic Vision 2020. It will explore the innermost regions of the heliosphere from high heliopsheric latitudes. From a distance of about 0.23AU and a max inclination of about 35 degrees with respect to the Sun's equator the Solar Orbiter will perform high resolution imagery of the sun and in-situ measurements of the heliosphere. At its closest distance to the Sun the spacecraft will experience a sun flux of approximately 28000W/m2. To protect the spacecraft bus from this flux a sun shield is used. The shield requires innovative design and materials in order to keep both the radiated and conducted heat to a minimum. Additionally, all sun exposed elements such as the high gain antenna and the solar arrays need to be designed for surviving the intense sun flux. This paper will outline the work done on the Solar Orbiter thermal design during its assessment phase. A description of the technical challenges for the overall thermal control system will be given and some of the trade-offs will be discussed. Furthermore, a feasible heat shield design will be presented together with current solutions towards test and verification of the overall system.
Published: 10 November 2005
The Solar Orbiter mission is part of ESA's Cosmic Vision science program. In the last year this mission has been studied in an assessment phase aiming at demonstrating technical feasibility and defining the mission at systems level. The Solar Orbiter will explore the innermost regions of the heliosphere from high heliopsheric latitudes. It will reach a distance of 0.22 AU from the Sun and obtain an inclination of 35 degrees with respect to the Sun's equator. In these areas a series of insitu and remote sensing measurements will be performed, providing first time in-situ measurements of regions so close to the Sun and at the same time provide arcsec resolution imagery. Additionally, the Solar Orbiter will provide the first ever out-of-the-ecliptic imaging and spectroscopic observations of the Sun's poles. Two mission profiles have been studied during the assessment; one utilizing solar electric propulsion and one using chemical propulsion. Both these scenarios will be discussed in this paper and the respective spacecraft design and the current Strawman payload will be presented. The strong link to BepiColombo through reuse of components will be outlined and specific technology development needs for the Solar Orbiter will be described.
Published: 10 November 2005


The Solar Orbiter mission is presently in assessment phase by the Science Payload and Advanced Concepts Office of the European Space Agency. The mission is confirmed in the Cosmic Vision programme, with the objective of a launch in October 2013 and no later than May 2015. The Solar Orbiter mission incorporates both a near-Sun (~0.22 AU) and a high-latitude (~ 35 deg) phase, posing new challenges in terms of protection from the intense solar radiation and related spacecraft thermal control, to remain compatible with the programmatic constraints of a medium class mission. This paper provides an overview of the assessment study activities, with specific emphasis on the definition of the model payload and its accommodation in the spacecraft. The main results of the industrial activities conducted with Alcatel Space and EADS-Astrium are summarized.
Published: 01 August 2005
The Solar Orbiter mission was first discussed at the Tenerife "Crossroads" workshop in 1998, in the framework of the ESA Solar Physics Planning Group. Following a pre-assessment study in ESA's Concurrent Design Facility in 1999, the mission was submitted to ESA in 2000. Solar Orbiter was selected by ESA's Science Programme Committee in October 2000. The mission was subsequently re-confirmed by the SPC in May 2002. on the basis of implementation as a mission group together with BepiColombo. A reassessment of BepiColombo was conducted in 2003, leading to an SPC decision in November 2003 to maintain Solar Orbiter in the Cosmic Vision programme, and to begin an assessment study of Solar Orbiter. At its 107th meeting on 7-8 June 2004, the SPC endorsed the recommendations of the advisory bodies (SSWG and SSAC), and confirmed the place of Solar Orbiter in the Cosmic Vision programme, with the objective of a launch in October 2013 and no later than May 2015.
Published: 23 June 2005
The main goals and present status of the Solar Orbiter mission are briefly described. Solar Orbiter will determin in-situ the properties of fields and particles in the unexplored near-Sun heliosphere in three dimensions, investigate remotely the fine-scale structures and events in the magnetically coupled layers of the Sun's atmosphere, identify througfh near corotation the links between activity on the solar surface and the resulting evolution of the inner heliosphere, and observe from relatively high latitudes the polar regions and equatorial corona. Some results from recent activities, such as industrial studies, payload working group meetings, science definition team meetings and ESA internal studies are briefly reviewed. Solar Orbiter is currently planned for launch in October 2013.
Published: 02 May 2005
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