ESA Publishes First Images from Solar Orbiter

Image Credit: ESA
Image Credit: ESA

On July 16 2020, the European Space Agency released the first images taken from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft. A high-resolution image from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images revealed ubiquitous features of the solar surface, called ‘campfires’. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral on February 10, 2020.On 30 May, Solar Orbiter was roughly halfway between the Earth and the Sun, meaning that it was closer to the Sun than any other solar telescope has ever been before. Later in the mission, the spacecraft will be twice as close to the Sun (about two years from now). Later, it will rise out of the orbital plane to image the polar regions of the Sun.

"The campfires in this photo are about the size of small European countries," according to David Berghmans – Principal investigator of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium.

Holly R. Gilbert – Solar Orbiter Project Scientist at NASA contrasts the Solar Orbiter with the Parker Solar Probe. "Parker Solar Probe is going closer to the Sun. It will be much closer... within 9 Solar Radii. But the environment that close is extremely harsh. Parker has one camera that is not facing the Sun. It is facing away so that it can watch the Solar winds. But cameras can't go that close, so Solar Orbiter is really the limit of where cameras can take images of the Sun itself."

The images are posted at

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