| 6 July 2022, Wednesday |

Solar Orbiter completes historic close pass through Sun’s corona

The joint European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Solar Orbiter successfully completed its first close pass through the Sun’s corona on March 26, 2022.

During the close pass, which is called perihelion, all ten of the orbiter’s instruments were operating simultaneously in order to gather important data. This flyby brought the Orbiter less than one-third of the distance from the Sun to the Earth.

The Solar Orbiter was launched on February 9, 2020, on top of an Atlas V rocket, and has been traveling through interplanetary space since being released by the rocket’s upper stage.

The maneuvers and the gravity assists completed by the Solar Orbiter allowed it to provide the first views of the Sun’s uncharted polar regions. On June 15, 2020, Solar Orbiter made its first close pass of the Sun. During the pass, the teams tested each of the spacecraft’s ten instruments.

As the orbiter was making its trek toward the perihelion. it passed a crucial point in space called the Earth-Sun line, which is the point in interplanetary space that marks the halfway point between the Sun and the Earth. As it was passing this line, extremely high definition images of the Sun’s surface were taken.

This will allow scientists to compare data from Solar Orbiter with other space-based and ground-based telescopes.