Volume 646, February 2021
The Solar Orbiter mission
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||18 February 2021|
Solar Orbiter: Mission and spacecraft design
European Space Agency (ESA), European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Keplerlaan 1, 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
2 European Space Agency, ESOC, Robert-Bosch Strasse 5, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany
3 European Space Agency (ESA), European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Camino Bajo del Castillo s/n, 28692 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
Accepted: 1 September 2020
The main scientific goal of Solar Orbiter is to address the central question of heliophysics: ‘how does the Sun create and control the heliosphere?’ To achieve this goal, the spacecraft carries a unique combination of ten scientific instruments (six remote-sensing instruments and four in-situ instruments) towards the innermost regions of the Solar System, to as close as 0.28 AU from the Sun during segments of its orbit. The orbital inclination will be progressively increased so that the spacecraft reaches higher solar latitudes (up to 34° towards the end of the mission), making detailed studies of the polar regions of the Sun possible for the first time. This paper presents the spacecraft and its intended trip around the Sun. We also discuss the main engineering challenges that had to be addressed during the development cycle, instrument integration, and testing of the spacecraft.
Key words: space vehicles / Sun: general / space vehicles: instruments
© ESO 2021
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