NASA’s and Europe’s Spacecraft Sent Off on a Mission to See the Sun’s Poles

Peyton Feldman, Writer

Peyton Feldman 

Mrs. Seltzer 

Journalism 1 

10 Feb 2020 

Image result for solar orbiter

 

   The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have recently collaborated on creating a spacecraft. They named it the Solar Orbiter and it launched on February 9th in Cape Canaveral Florida late at night. It was launched in effort to capture the first pictures of the sun’s polesThe Solar Orbiter was created in Europe and is constructed by 10 instruments, 4 in-situ instruments and 6 imagers that will provide detailed observations and pictures of the sun. 

   In order to avoid being overtaken by extreme heat according to nasa.gov the Solar Orbiter “has a custom-designed titanium heat shield with a calcium phosphate coating that withstands 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside of the shield five peepholes will remain open long enough for the instruments to take measurements in several wavelengths. The spacecraft will stay at closest 26 million miles from the sun within Mercury’s orbit. 

  There are several reasons why scientists are so eager to get a look at the sun’s poles. On February 7th during a prelaunch science briefing the ESA’s project scientist for the expedition Daniel Muller stated that “we’ll get firstever data of the sun’s polar magnetic field”. Learning about the patterns in the sun’s polar magnetic field, can unlock the secret on how the sun is connected to the heliosphere. An article on space.com mentioned this can help scientist “establish a cause-and-effect relationship to what happens on the sun and what we observe in the near-Earth environment. Further examination can also help us learn about the solar cycle (a periodic change in the sun’s activity). Nobody knows why the solar cycle changes every 11 years. If scientist research it now maybe one day they’ll have enough knowledge to predict the amplitude of future cycles and when powerful solar storms may occur (sometimes solar storms disrupt power grids and knock out satellites in orbit around Earth). 

   The Solar Orbiter won’t be the only spacecraft to make observations of the sun, nbcnews.com said “[the] spacecraft will join NASA’s Parker Solar Probe [that was] launched 1½ years ago”Together the two spacecrafts will work in harmony to capture new data about the sun. 

List of sources

http://nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/new-mission-will-take-first-peek-at-sun-s-poles

http://nbcnews.com/news/solar-orbiter-blast-capture-first-look-sun-s-poles-n1133771

http://space.com/solar-orbiter-sun-poles-science-explained.html