ESA’s solar orbiter speeds towards its next rendezvous with the Sun

The sequence begins on 20 September and finishes on 10 October.

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On 12 October 2022 at 19:12 UTC (21:12 CEST), the ESA-led Solar Orbiter mission arrives at its next close approach to the Sun. During the approach, the Extreme-Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), a coronal imager for the Solar Orbiter mission, took a sequence of images, showing the progress of the spacecraft as it headed inwards on its voyage of discovery.

The sequence shows the Sun at a wavelength of 17 nanometers. With a temperature of almost one million degrees, gas in the Sun’s atmosphere emits light at this wavelength. The actual wavelength detected by the device is undetectable to human sight; hence the color on this image has been artificially added.

The image seems to jump somewhat toward the end of the sequence. This occurred on the days when EUI wasn’t sending data back to Earth. The tremendous amount of data gathered during this time is shown in the colored bar at the top of the image, along with occasional lapses in data coverage.

Depending on where Solar Orbiter is along its orbit, it can take days or weeks for the data it records to be transmitted back to Earth. Data from the current perihelion passage is downlinked within two weeks of being collected.

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