The spacecraft Solar Orbiter, from the European Space Agency (ESA), registered on Monday (15) the photos closest to the Sun ever made. The images were captured during the mission’s first approach to the star, reaching 77 million kilometers of its surface.
According to ESA, the spacecraft’s telescopes have the same resolution as NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO), which takes pictures of an orbit close to Earth. However, the images recorded now have better quality, since the equipment was half the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
They are also expected to outperform the quality of the images from the Daniel K. Inouye solar telescope, installed in Hawaii, as they have no interference from the Earth’s atmosphere. The new records will offer scientists an unprecedented look at the structure and composition of solar winds, while also revealing unprecedented details of the crown and other parts.
For now, it is not possible to see these images of perihelion, which will take about a week to be transmitted from Solar Orbiter to the space agency’s operations center. Once processed, they will be released to the public in July.
Launched in February this year, Solar Orbiter will still make at least two other approaches. The next one, at the beginning of 2021, should place the probe even closer to the Sun, 42 million kilometers away, closer than the planet Mercury. In the next perihelion, in 2022, it will be 48 million kilometers away.
Subsequently, its orbit will be altered, allowing it to see the star from higher latitudes, obtaining a more adequate view of its poles. Observation of activity in these regions will help to better understand the behavior of the Sun’s magnetic field and what motivates the creation of the solar wind, whose reflections reach the entire Solar System.