Closest pictures of the sun
#GS3#science and Technology#
- A European and NASA spacecraft has snapped the closest pictures ever taken of the sun, revealing countless little “campfires” flaring everywhere.
- The orbiter was about 48 million miles (77 million kilometers) from the sun — about halfway between Earth and the sun — when it took the stunning high-resolution pictures last month.
- NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is flying much closer to the sun than Solar Orbiter — too close for cameras to safely photograph the sun. Its lone camera faces away from the sun to observe the solar wind.
- That’s why Solar Orbiter’s new pictures showing vibrant swirls of yellow and dark smoky gray — the first images from so close and at such small scale — are so precious. The team had to create a new vocabulary to name these tiny flare-ups, said European Space Agency project scientist Daniel Muller.
- The $1.5 billion spacecraft will tilt its orbit as the mission goes on, providing unprecedented views of the sun's poles. This vantage point will allow it to capture the first pictures of the solar poles.
- Solar Orbiter will get even closer to the sun in two years.
Parker Solar Probe
- It is part of NASA’s “Living with a Star” program that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
- The probe seeks to gather information about the Sun’s atmosphere and NASA says that it “will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun”.
- It is also the closest a human-made object has ever gone to the Sun.
- During the spacecraft’s first two solar encounters, the instruments were turned on when Parker was about 0.25 AU from the Sun and powered off again at the same distance on the outbound side of the orbit.
- For this third solar encounter, the mission team turned on the instruments when the spacecraft was around 0.45 AU from the Sun on the inbound side of its orbit.
- It will turn them off when the spacecraft is about 0.5 AU from the Sun on the outbound side.
Aim of the mission
- The mission’s central aim is to trace how energy and heat move through the Sun’s corona and to study the source of the solar wind’s acceleration.
- The mission is likely to last for seven years during which it will complete 24 orbits.