NASA and ESA Automatic Spacecraft Solar orbiter June 15 completed the first rapprochement with the Sun,going up to him at a distance of 77 million kilometers, which is approximately equal to half the distance between the Sun and the Earth. This is an important milestone for the mission, since the probe, launched in February, moved on to the next stage after its launch of its research expedition. Over the next five months, scientists will monitor its on-board instruments, after which the scientific mission will officially start and pictures of the native star will be obtained from the perihelion point - the closest point to the sun in the orbit of a planet or other celestial body of the solar system. Before astronomers had never taken pictures of the Sun at such close range.
The perihelion of the Earth’s orbit is about 2.5 million kilometers less than the average distance to the Sun.
How to study the sun?
The sun is an active star, a magnetic fieldwhich - carried by a constant stream of matter (solar wind) - spreads throughout the solar system. The solar wind affects spacecraft and forms the environment of the worlds throughout the system. Scientists have been observing the Sun, the planets closest to Earth, and even the most distant edges of the sphere of influence of the native star for decades. So, in 2018, the launch of the NASA probe Parker solar probe (Parker), which, ultimately, will fly at a distance of about 6.16 million kilometers from the visible surface of the Sun. Read more about this amazing mission here.
According to the official website of NASA, duringthe time of the last (fourth) collision with the Sun, which occurred in the second half of January and in February 2020, the spacecraft passed directly between the Sun and the Earth. This gave scientists a unique opportunity: the solar wind that Parker measured being closest to the Sun will arrive on Earth in a few days, where the wind itself and its effects can be measured both by spacecraft and ground-based observatories. Moreover, ground-based observatories will have a clear idea of the location of objects that produce solar wind.
Despite the apparent similarity, confused missionsParker and Solar Orbiter are not worth it, since the first device is not equipped with cameras, and the second will eventually approach the Sun at a distance of 42 million kilometers. The research missions of both probes are also very different from each other.
According to previously obtained data, on the surfaceThe sun or near it there are certain structures. To understand exactly how they are formed, develop and what contribution they make to the plasma dynamics in the solar wind, it is necessary to look at the initial regions of these structures. All space missions, including Solar Orbiter, help scientists make a complete picture of what is happening on the surface of their native star.
What is known about Solar Orbiter?
Designed by European engineersSpace Agency (ESA) using NASA, Solar Orbiter is equipped with 10 different on-board instruments, many of which complement each other. So, six different cameras provide an unprecedented close-up view of the Sun, and the main goal of the mission is to better understand the Sun and how the star creates and controls the dynamic environment inside the solar system. According to the authors of the scientific work in the official press release of the study, only a small part of the solar spectrum can be seen in photographs of the Sun taken from the surface of the Earth.
In turn, from space you can see wheremore detailed picture. The current position of Solar Orbiter is the first time in the history of observations when all the on-board devices of the device operate at such a close distance from the Sun. This gives researchers a unique view of the structure and composition of the solar wind.
See also: What is a solar minimum and why not be afraid of it?
Let me remind you that sunny wind Is a stream of ionized particleshelium-hydrogen plasma, which is formed as a result of thermonuclear reactions in the sun. A star emits these particles and they spread throughout the solar system. It is the solar wind that invokes such phenomena as magnetic storms and auroras. Read even more interesting articles about the latest scientific discoveries in the field of astronomy and astrophysics on our channel in Yandex.Zen.
In the coming months, the on-board devices of the device will collect preliminary data on the solar corona, star surface, heliosphere, magnetic field and particles inside the solar wind. The first pictures taken by Orbiter will not be released until July.
According to New Atlas, the trajectory of Solar Orbiterwill allow him to study the solar poles, which are not directed to the Earth. This phase of the mission of the apparatus will last until November 2021. The next step, as mentioned above, will be approaching the star at a distance of 42 million kilometers.
But even though the detailed resultswill become known only after some time, both devices should significantly improve our understanding of space weather and, possibly, increase our ability to predict potentially dangerous outbreaks on the Sun. Do you think our star will destroy all life on Earth? The answer can be shared in our Telegram chat.