NASA's new spacecraft will travel within 26 million miles of the sun in order to gather data

Mail Online | 2/7/2020 | Stacy Liberatore For
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NASA has a new mission on the horizon that will snap the first pictures of the sun's north and south poles.

In collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the team is launching the Solar Orbiter that will use Venus's and Earth's gravity to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane — the area of space aligned with the sun's equator, where all planets orbit.

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From this position, the craft will feast its eyes on the first-ever look of the massive yellow dwarf star, which will provide scientists with better data to predict solar storms more accurately.

Solar Orbiter is equipped with a custom-designed titanium heat shield coated with a specific phosphate that withstands temperatures over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing it to get within 26 million miles of the blazing sun.

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The space agencies are set to launch the craft on February 7, 2020 at 11.15pm EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Russell Howard, space scientist at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. and principal investigator for one of Solar Orbiter's ten instruments, said: 'Up until Solar Orbiter, all solar imaging instruments have been within the ecliptic plane or very close to it.'

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'Now, we'll be able to look down on the Sun from above.'

The mission is set to last for seven years, in which Solar Orbiter will first reach 24 degrees above the Sun's equator, increasing to 33 degrees after three years and then finishing it off with pass-by within 26 million miles of the sun.

Scientists - Sun - Field - Order - Storms

Scientists study the sun's magnetic field in order to predict when solar storms will occur, which interfere with our GPS and communications satellites — at their worst, they can even...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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