NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are releasing new images of the sun on Thursday morning, bringing humans closer to our host stars than ever before. The photos are captured for the first time by Solar Orbiter, which launched earlier this year.
After launching on 9 February, the Solar Orbiter made its first pass to the Sun in mid-June, despite the team experiencing failures due to a coronovirus epidemic. The agencies said in a statement that as soon as it passed the sun, it switched on all 10 of its devices simultaneously.
The agencies said the new photos are the closest they have ever been to the Sun. He will be released at 8 am EDT on Thursday morning.
“The first images are exceeding our expectations,” ESA Solar Orbiter Project Scientist Daniel Muller said in a statement. “We can already see signs of very interesting events that we haven’t seen in detail before. The 10 instruments mounted on the solar orbiter work beautifully, and together provide an overall view of the sun and solar wind. It reassures us. The solar orbiter will help us answer deeper questions about the Sun. “
During its first orbit, the solar orbiter found about half the distance between the Sun and Earth – within 47 million miles of the star’s surface. The ESA said that the satellite would eventually reach very close to the sun.
Now that it has completed its first pass, the spacecraft is slowly adjusting its orbit. In late 2021, it would reach close to 26 million miles from the sun’s surface – compared to the planet Mercury – to observe the first proper view of the star’s poles.
Scientists hope the mission can help answer some of their biggest questions about the evolution of planets, the emergence of life, the inner workings of our solar system, and the origin of the universe and how it works.
Images are not just new scenes that we have. In June, NASA released a 10-year time-lapse video of the star, captured by the agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDR).
The SDO collected 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun – 20 million gigabytes of data over the course of a decade. It took a new picture of the sun every .75 seconds, creating a stunning composite video.