Bonus #science opportunity for #SolarOrbiter, which will cross through the tails of #Comet ATLAS in the next few days. The mission's 4 in-situ instruments will be switched on and collecting data during the encounter 👍 #weareallsolarorbiters

More details:…
The commissioning of #SolarOrbiter has been proceeding over the past three months to ensure the spacecraft and instruments will be fully functional for the 1st close pass of the #Sun, to take place on 15 June, around 77 million km from our parent star.
Meanwhile, @einionyn noticed that #SolarOrbiter would pass through the ion tail of Comet ATLAS on 31 May-1 June + through the dust tail on 6 June. Fortuitously, the 4 in-situ instruments that measure the conditions around the spacecraft are also great for studying #comet tails! Image
Unexpected encounters like this provide unique opportunities & challenges. Thanks to a special effort by #SolarOrbiter instrument teams & @esaoperations, the 4 in-situ instruments will be on, even though at certain times they will need to be switched back into commissioning mode. Image
Another challenge is posed by the comet itself! In early April, Comet ATLAS fragmented & its brightness dropped significantly. A further fragmentation occurred mid-May, making it even less likely to be detectable by #SolarOrbiter – but the effort is still worth making #forscience Image
If #SolarOrbiter detects Comet ATLAS's presence, scientists could learn more about how #comets interact with the solar wind – the flow of charged particles released by the #Sun – and also about the dust environment of our star, as the comet nucleus is inside the orbit of Mercury.
Looking at an icy object rather than the scorching #Sun is an exciting – and unexpected! – way for #SolarOrbiter to start its scientific mission, but that’s the nature of #science 🙂

Stay tuned as the spacecraft approaches its first perihelion in mid June #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters

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More from @ESASolarOrbiter

Sep 30, 2020
We are excited to announce our first data release! The first data are from in-situ instruments that measure #space conditions around the spacecraft

Read more👉…
Dive into the archive👉
#OpenESA #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters #SolarOrbiter
For many space missions first data usually comes after 6 months-1 year, but #SolarOrbiter is different: the time between data being received on Earth & it being released is at most 90 days!
#OpenESA #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters
#SolarOrbiter remote sensing instruments will only start nominal operations in Nov ’21, so their data will come later. But we already enjoyed a sneak peek earlier this year:…
#OpenESA #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters
Read 6 tweets
Jul 16, 2020
👋Welcome to the live press briefing with #SolarOrbiter experts presenting the exciting images from the mission captured around its 1st close pass of the #Sun

📨For journalists who have any questions, please send them to

😎Join the conversation via #TheSunUpClose
📷The brand new #SolarOrbiter images that we are going to see today are already the closest ever images of the Sun, captured only 77 million km from our star's surface 👍


📽️Perihelion animation:…
While #SolarOrbiter is taking the closest images of the #Sun, @NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is actually flying much closer. The two missions will work together, collecting complementary data to investigate our nearest star


Read 14 tweets
Jul 15, 2020
Launched in February, #SolarOrbiter performed its first close approach to the #Sun in mid June, getting just 77 million km from its surface and capturing the closest ever images of our parent star 🌞🛰️📷

These brand new views will be released tomorrow. Stay tuned #TheSunUpClose Image
An international collaboration between ESA and NASA, #SolarOrbiter lofted to space aboard the US Atlas V 411 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 05:03 CET on 10 February (23:03 EST on 9 February).

Relive the excitement of the launch:
The mission of #SolarOrbiter: to perform unprecedented close-up observations of the #Sun – including from high latitudes, obtaining views of the Sun's poles – and investigate the Sun-Earth connection.

Find out more about the mysteries it is out to solve:… Image
Read 10 tweets
Feb 10, 2020
👋Greetings from ESA's Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany! We're getting ready for #SolarOrbiter launch: liftoff is scheduled in less than 30min from @NASAKennedy

Follow live coverage from ESOC & Cape Canaveral via #ESAWebTV

@NASAKennedy The press centre here in Darmstadt is vibrant with #media!

Follow @ESASolarOrbiter & @esaoperations for a detailed countdown to liftoff of #SolarOrbiter and @esascience for exclusive content about the mission science #science from our experts

Read 32 tweets
Oct 31, 2019
Good morning! ☀️ Our #SolarOrbiter spacecraft is getting ready to leave #Europe on an Antonov cargo plane for its next stage of launch preparations at Cape Canaveral 👋 Here’s one of the last views before packing, taken earlier this month 👇 
More info👉… Image
In the meantime, here’s a recap of the latest status and what’s in store for #SolarOrbiter’s mission to the #Sun
#SolarOrbiter is scheduled for launch Feb 2020 and will use gravity assists at Earth & Venus to get progressively closer & different views of the #Sun 📽 #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters
Read 7 tweets

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