New mission to take first peek at Sun’s poles: NASA

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News: NASA, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), will launch Solar Orbiter spacecraft on 7th February 2020 to get the first-ever pictures of the Sun’s north and south poles..

Facts:

About Solar Orbiter

Aim: To perform close-up, high-resolution studies of Sun and inner heliosphere.

Objectives:

  • Study solar wind and where does the coronal magnetic field originate from
  • Study how solar transients drive heliospheric variability
  •  Study how solar eruptions produce energetic particle radiation that fills the heliosphere
  • Understand how the solar dynamo work and drive connections between the Sun and the heliosphere

Additional Information:

Missions to Sun:

  1.  Parker Solar Probe: It was launched in 2018 by NASA. It seeks to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
  2. Ulysses spacecraft: It was launched in 1990 by NASA and ESA. It made three complete orbits of the Sun and helped determine that the Sun’s magnetic field “reverses” in direction every 11 years.
  3. Aditya L1:  It will be India’s first satellite to study the sun. It is scheduled to be launched in 2021. It aims to study the Sun’s corona (outer layer of the sun) from a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point 1.

Heliosphere: It is the region of space, encompassing the solar system, in which the solar wind has a significant influence.

Solar wind: It is a stream of energized, charged particles, primarily electrons, and protons, flowing outward from the Sun, through the solar system. It is made of plasma.

 Additional Reading: Layers of the Sun