Fr.: orbiteur solaire
A → European Space Agency (ESA) mission with strong → National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) participation aimed at studying the Sun up close and from high latitudes, launched on 10 February 2020. Solar Orbiter is equipped with 10 instruments and will provide the first images of the Sun's poles. It will make a close approach of the Sun every six months. Its distance from the Sun varies from within the orbit of → Mercury to close to the orbit of Earth. At closest approach, Solar Orbiter will be about approximately 42 million km from the Sun. Solar Orbiter will combine in situ measurements of the → solar wind around the spacecraft with remote sensing, looking at the Sun's features from afar, to connect the two together. The spacecraft has been tested to withstand temperatures up to 500 °C -- enduring thirteen times the amount of solar heating that satellites in Earth's orbit experience. Solar Orbiter will help us understand how our star creates and controls the → heliosphere, i.e. the giant bubble of → plasma that surrounds the whole → Solar System and influences the planets within it.