Quantcast

Solar Orbiter Blasts off in Mission to the Sun

Science
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket with the Solar Orbiter payload arrives at pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Feb. 8, 2020. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

A joint U.S.-European team successfully launched the Space Orbiter space probe on Sunday night from Florida on a mission to "address big questions" about the solar system, including taking the first-ever high-resolution pictures of the sun's poles.


Space Orbiter blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral at 11:03 p.m. (0403 UTC Monday) atop an Atlas V411 rocket.

U.S. space agency NASA and European space agency ESA are collaborating on the mission, which will be controlled from the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, in southwestern Germany.

Later, mission controllers at Darmstadt center "received a signal from the spacecraft indicating that its solar panels had successfully deployed," said NASA in a statement.

Space Orbiter is equipped with 10 scientific instruments and weighs 1,800 kilograms. The joint project mission came at a cost of almost €1.5 billion ($1.66 billion). The journey could last up to nine years, and the probe will reach primary scientific orbit in two years' time.

What Is the Space Orbiter Doing?

Information provided by Space Orbiter is expected to provide insights into the sun's atmosphere, its winds and its magnetic fields, including how it shapes the heliosphere, the vast swath of space that encompasses our system.

"By the end of our Solar Orbiter mission, we will know more about the hidden force responsible for the sun's changing behavior and its influence on our home planet than ever before," said Guenther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science. Hasinger added that this could provide useful information about how powerful solar storms could disrupt everyday life.

Reposted with permission from DW.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Graphic image of a thin film of protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity. UMass Amherst / Yao and Lovley labs

Imagine painting your home with a special paint that also powers your lights using renewable energy drawn from the air.

Read More
Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks to the media on the company's sustainability efforts on Sept. 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. ERIC BARADAT / AFP via Getty Images

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just pledged $10 billion to fight the climate crisis.

Read More
Sponsored

America's national bird is threatened by hunters. Not that hunters are taking aim at the iconic bald eagle, but bald eagles are dying after eating lead bullets, as CNN reported.

Read More
Bill Bader, owner of Bader Farms, and his wife Denise pose in front of the Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. United States Courthouse in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Jan. 27, 2020. Johnathan Hettinger / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

A jury in Missouri awarded a farmer $265 million in a lawsuit that claimed Bayer and BASF's weedkiller destroyed his peach orchard, as Reuters reported.

Read More
Earthjustice says Louisiana has violated the Clean Water Act and given Formosa Plastics Group the "greenlight to double toxic air pollution in St. James" (seen above). Louisiana Bucket Brigade

By Jessica Corbett

A coalition of local and national groups on Friday launched a legal challenge to a Louisiana state agency's decision to approve air permits for a $9.4 billion petrochemical complex that Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group plans to build in the region nationally known as "Cancer Alley."

Read More