By February 12, 2020 Read More →

Launch of Solar Orbiter marks beginning of historic mission

The UK-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 10 February, with the aim of taking the most detailed images ever of the Sun and providing crucial information about how its volatile activity affects its atmosphere.

This knowledge will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites and infrastructure on Earth. This has never been more important as the UK economy is increasingly reliant on space, with satellite services such as communications, navigation and Earth observation supporting wider industrial activities worth £300 billion.

Solar Orbiter will allow scientists to study our star in much more detail than previously possible and to observe specific features for longer periods than can be achieved by any spacecraft circling the Earth. The spacecraft’s orbit will also give unprecedented views towards the Sun’s poles.

The UK is at the heart of this European Space Agency (ESA) mission with UK industry winning £200 million worth of contracts and the UK Space Agency investing £20 million in the development and build of the instruments.

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