ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft has launched to study the sun

ESA’s Solar Orbiter is now on its way to the sun, beginning a nearly two-year journey.

 

A new sungazing spacecraft has launched on a mission to chart the sun’s unexplored polar regions and to understand how our star creates and controls the vast bubble of plasma that envelops the solar system.

 

At 11:03 pm ET on February 9, 2020, the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The spacecraft now begins a nearly two-year convoluted journey — getting two gravity assists from Venus and one from Earth — to an orbit that will repeatedly take it a bit closer to the sun than Mercury gets.

 

 

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