Happy Birthday Solar Orbiter!!
Today 10 February, it is one year since the Solar Orbiter's launch!!
And so much has happened in this last year:
- We were so lucky to be able to be present during the launch from Cape Canaveral, as only 1 month later the Covid19 pandemic made travelling almost impossible.
- The spacecraft has left Earth just in time and is performing at its best. The few small problems found in the satellite systems and instruments have been resolved and the instruments are preparing for the real science phase of the mission (see blog Mission Phases).
- Solar Orbiter is flying perfectly along the planned orbit around the Sun. It has made its first close encounter with the Sun in June 2020 and today it is flying by a second time, at less than half the distance Sun-Earth. So while the Earth orbited one time around the Sun (1 year), the spacecraft has made 1,5 revolutions.
- At times the orbit needs to be adjusted, so that we can soon observe the Sun from even closer than Mercury and will be able to see its north and south poles in a few years. To change its route, Solar Orbiter has flown by planet Venus on 27 Dec 2020 to use the gravity of that planet to swing into a slightly different orbit.
We wish you a very happy birthday and all the best for the coming year, Solar Orbiter! Hip Hip Hurray!!