NASA has recently started to work together with the ESA (European Space Agency) to take the first pictures at the North and South poles of our sun. On Monday, the famous agency released to the public the information that their new spacecraft, which is named Solar Orbiter, will have the first and unique chance for this mission upon its launch on February 7.
How Do They Want to Do That?
The Solar Orbiter will be launched on an Atlas V rocket, belonging to the United Launch Alliance. It is going to use two planets’ gravity, Earth and Venus, to manage to get out of the ecliptic plane, which is the name of the area where all the planets orbit. From there, we will get the best view of the Sun’s poles. This is the first time we get to have such a close look at this piece of area that is unknown to us.
Russell Howard works as a space scientist, more precisely at the Naval Research Lab, found in Washington DC. He is also the primary investigator for one of the ten instruments in use on the Solar Orbiter. According to him, up until this magnificent machine, all the tools they had been using were placed within this ecliptic plane. Or, in any way, they were very close to it. In a fantastic premiere, we’ll be able to look down on the Sun!
Why NASA and ESA want to explore the Sun’s poles
To put it simply, scientists will work better on monitoring the Sun’s magnetic field if they have a better view of it. This, in turn, will help them further to prepare for any future solar storms. And the steeper their viewing angle, the more affected the data is.
Moreover, up until now, they had significant gaps in their data, which interfered with their efforts to prevent and control the outcomes of solar storms.