Tech UPTechnologyThe Sun, as you have never seen it

The Sun, as you have never seen it


A ‘hedgehog’ on the surface of the Sun? The European Solar Orbiter mission, which is now a third of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, shows us the first images of the closest approach to our star, known as perihelion, in which we can see views of the solar poles and various solar flares. One of them was nicknamed the ‘hedgehog’, due to its multitude of hot and cold gas spikes that extend in all directions.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter entered perihelion on March 26, reaching a distance of about 30 million miles , within the orbit of Mercury.

In that proximity, temperatures reached around 500 degrees Celsius and future approaches are expected to be closer and hotter.

These new observations, taken with Solar Orbiter’s 10 science instruments working together for the first time, should provide a wealth of data for unraveling the Sun’s behavior.


Space weather in real time

Considering the danger that space weather poses to technology and astronauts, knowing the space weather forecast becomes increasingly important.

Solar Orbiter is a collaborative mission between ESA and NASA to study our Sun. Launched on February 10, 2020, it carries ten scientific instruments (nine are led by member states of the European Space Agency and one by NASA). Its main scientific goal is to explore the connection between the Sun and the heliosphere , that great “bubble” of space that extends beyond the planets of our solar system. It is full of electrically charged particles where most of them have been expelled by the Sun to form the solar wind.

Solar activity, such as flares and giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections, are driven by the Sun’s magnetic activity.

your goal

Solar Orbiter’s primary goal is to help scientists understand the effect the Sun has on the entire heliosphere, or the sphere of solar influence defined by the solar wind, whose boundary extends beyond the orbit of Pluto.

By combining the data from all the instruments, scientists will be able to tell the story of solar activity from the Sun’s surface to Solar Orbiter and beyond. And that knowledge is exactly what will pave the way for a future system designed to forecast space weather conditions on Earth in real time.

The Sun is currently quite active, which means that the spacecraft will send back a lot of valuable data on solar activity. It has at least 14 more perihelions scheduled before 2030, in which it will come within 40 million kilometers of the Sun.

Referencia: European Space Agency.

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