Satellite to take Closest Ever-Photo of Sun

Satellite to take Closest Ever-Photo of Sun - but scientists won't see it for weeks

A satellite is on course to capture the Sun’s closest photographs ever taken-but they will not reach Earth until July.

The UK-built Solar Orbiter has made its closest approach to the Sun yet, as it flies near enough to capture images of the little-known surface.

The European Space Agency (ESA) craft came within 75 million kilometres of the Sun this week – approximately half the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
From next week the mission scientists will test the satellite’s 10 science instruments, including the six telescopes on-board.

These telescopes working together should be able to snap the closest photo of the sun ever – though scientists will not be able to see it until mid-July.
“We have never taken pictures of the sun from a closer distance than this,” said Daniel Muller, ESA project scientist.

“There have been higher resolution close-ups, for example taken by the four-metre Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii earlier this year.
“But from Earth, with the atmosphere between the telescope and the sun, you can only see a small part of the solar spectrum that you can see from space.”
Readings from other instruments on the satellite will also yield information about the environment around the spacecraft, such as the magnetic field and the particles in the solar wind.

The observations of the Sun come as Solar Orbiter begins its cruise phase, which will last until November 2021.
It will then enter the main science phase, flying as near as 42 million kilometres to the Sun’s surface – further than Mercury, the closest planet to orbit the Sun.



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