The spaceship “Solar Orbiter” sent its first images of the sun less than six months after launch. Even if it is only the first images, interesting new phenomena can already be seen, said Daniel Müller, project researcher at the European Space Agency ESA, on Thursday at the presentation of the images. It is also unique that so far no mission has taken pictures of the sun from such a low level Can distance themselves. The orbiter controlled by the European Space Flight Control Center (Esoc) in Darmstadt was only 77 million kilometers away, almost halfway between earth and sun, when we took the pictures from our home star.
The spaceship “Solar Orbiter”
Austria participated in three of the ten instruments on board and in the probe itself, for example, the University of Graz directed the scientific software development of the X-ray telescope on board the “Solar Orbiter”, which aims to provide insights into the acceleration of high-energy particles in tanners. In the test phase, the unit has already observed more than 60 very small solar flares: “This is particularly exciting because the sun’s activity is very low and not a single sunspot can be seen,” explained Astrid Veronig, solar physicist at the Institute of Physics at the University of Graz. By comparing micro-eruptions with eruptions of normal size, new knowledge about the heating of the outer radiation ring is expected, among other things.
Participation in the Institute for Space Research Graz
The Graz Institute of Space Research (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) developed the onboard computer for the radio and plasma wave instrument (RPW) and calibrated the antennas. It is intended to measure magnetic and electric fields in high temporary resolution and to characterize the electromagnetic and electrostatic waves in the solar wind with the help of several sensors and antennas. “The device is unique among Solar Orbiter instruments because, on the one hand, it measures plasma waves near the sun, but it can also determine where it comes from the sun,” explained IWF group leader Manfred Steller. In addition, the IWF participated in the magnetometer (MAG), which makes measurements of the solar magnetic field. The focus is on questions about the more stable magnetic field and magnetic waves and the effects of fluctuations on the solar system.
For the first time, the probe will also fly over the stars of Poland, thus exploring the lesser-known regions of the sun from above: “They are central to the nature of the magnetic field – and this in turn affects the entire solar activity,” said Veronig. The solar wind, sudden eruptions of radiation, ejection of matter or the acceleration of high energy particles can cause major damage to the earth – from false satellite signals to extensive power outages.
To protect against the high temperatures of several hundred degrees, the spacecraft has a heat shield in titanium. The Viennese space company RUAG Space is responsible for thermal insulation of the satellite. (apa / dpa)