September 29, 2022
ATLAS 5 successfully launched a European-led solar science mission on the 9th of February In what scientists consider to be the "golden time" to study the Sun.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 411 launched at 11.03 p.m. at Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Its Solar Orbiter spacecraft separated from Centaur's upper stage about 53 minutes later. The European Space Agency received the first signal from the spacecraft a couple of minutes after.
The 1.800 kg Solar Orbiter, built by Airbus Defense and Space for ESA, includes 10 instruments that study the Sun and the atmosphere surrounding the spacecraft.
NASA is an active participant in the mission. They supply an instrument known as the Heliospheric Imager along with parts for other instruments, as well as the launch itself.
Similar to the NASA Parker Solar Probe, launched in August, Solar Orbiter sports a sunshield that shields spacecraft and instruments from solar scorching heat.
Scientists are planning to use the Solar Orbiter to answer important questions regarding the Sun.
Like the magnetic field of its magnetic field is formed, the formation of the sun's wind and solar activity like coronal mass ejections and flares influence the solar weather on Earth.
In the case of the Solar Orbiter, the important factor is that it's heading away from the ecliptic, the plane on which the planets orbit each other to provide us with unimaginable perspectives of the poles" Fox said.