Solar Orbiter

The Solar Orbiter ( SolO ) is a planned spacecraft of ESA, which should be started after the current state in January 2017 an Atlas V ( 401) from Cape Canaveral. As back-up Ariane 5 is intended to serve.


The ESA contracted Astrium UK as the prime contractor to build the probe for 300 million euros. ESA expects own costs for Solar Orbiter of 500 million euros, plus another 400 million U.S. dollars by NASA for the rocket and the part of the payload, which is provided by NASA. NASA is an instrument and a sensor on the probe. You should gradually approach the Sun after several Earth and Venus swing - bys and engage in the course of the mission stages in an increasingly polar orbit around the sun. At the end of the Solar Orbiter mission is an inclined by 25 ° to the ecliptic path have and approach the sun up to 45 million kilometers. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the executed as a thermal shield side of the satellite aligned with the sun. The take-off mass of the probe should be 1800 kg and they should have a chemical propulsion. The originally planned ion drives, which are developed for BepiColombo are no longer provided for Solar Orbiter.

The main objective of the mission it will be to investigate the solar wind, the so-called space weather. Here, the Solar Orbiter will be able to accommodate structures in the solar corona from a size of 35 kilometers. The mission is designed for seven years.

Remote sensing instruments on board

The remote sensing instruments to investigate the surface and the atmosphere of the sun:

  • Spectrometer / Telescope for Imaging X -rays ( STIX )
  • The polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager ( PHI) measures the magnetic field in the photosphere with high resolution.
  • The EUV full- Sun and high-resolution imager ( EUI ) produces images at different layers of the solar atmosphere.
  • The Coronagraph METIS observed the corona in the visible and ultraviolet light in high temporal and spatial resolution
  • The Heliospheric Imager ( SoloHI ) observed the interference of visible light by the electrons of the solar wind. Thus, the mass movements in the corona can be determined.
  • Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment ( SPICE) is a UV spectroscope the sun's surface and the lower corona is measured.

In -situ instruments on board

The in-situ instruments to investigate the immediate environment of the spacecraft:

  • Energetic the particle detector (EPD) investigated superconducting thermal ions, electrons, neutral atoms, and energetic particles in the range from a few keV to relativistic electrons and ions up to 100 MeV (protons ) and 200 MeV / nucleon (heavy ions). EPD consists of the instruments SupraThermal Ion Spectrograph (SIS ), SupraThermal Electrons, ions and neutrals Telescope (STONE ), Electron and Proton Telescope High Energy Telescope ( EPT HET ) and Low Energy Telescope ( LET).
  • The solar wind plasma analyzer (SWA ) measures the composition and properties of the solar wind.
  • The magnetometer ( MAG) measures the magnetic field.
  • Radio and Plasma Waves ( RPW ) measures magnetic and electric fields with a high temporal resolution.