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European Solar Orbiter Hit by Outburst From Sun While Flying Near Venus

By: Buzz Staff

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Last Updated: September 07, 2022, 15:49 IST

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The solar orbiter is already a quarter of the way through its decade-long mission. (Representative image: NASA via Canva)

The solar orbiter is already a quarter of the way through its decade-long mission. (Representative image: NASA via Canva)

Luckily, no negative effects were reported on the spacecraft as the ESA-NASA solar observatory is designed to withstand such violent outbursts from the Sun.

A solar orbiter developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) was hit by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun when it was flying near Venus on September 4. “As if trying to get the orbiter’s attention as it cosied up to another body in the Solar System, the Sun flung an enormous 'coronal mass ejection' straight at the spacecraft and planet just two days before their closest approach and the data are revealing," the European Space Agency said in a statement.

The activity was reported four days after a large coronal mass ejection shot from the sun in the direction of Venus.

Luckily, no negative effects were reported on the spacecraft as the ESA-NASA solar observatory is designed to withstand such violent outbursts from the Sun.

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The orbiter is on a 10-year mission to study the Sun and possibly get a look at its mysterious poles. Its orbit was chosen in close range of Venus which allows it to return to the planet's vicinity every few orbits to use its gravity to alter or tilt its orbit.

The solar orbiter is already a quarter of the way through its decade-long mission. Its third flyby of Venus was completed on September 4. During the flyby, the solar orbiter passed 12,500 km from Venus' centre which is nearly 6,000 km from its glassy.

On its next return to the Sun, the orbiter will be 4.5 million km closer than before.

“The close approach went exactly to plan, thanks to a great deal of planning from our colleagues in Flight Dynamics and the diligent care of the Flight Control Team," explains Jose-Luis Pellon-Bailon, Solar Orbiter Operations Manager.

Data collected from the orbiter's encounter with the solar storm revealed that its local environment changed as the large CME swept by. Some incitements had to be turned off during its close approach to Venus to save them from sunlight reflected off of the planet's surface. However, Solar Orbiter's “in situ" instruments remained on, collecting data on solar energetic particles and other things.

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first published:September 07, 2022, 15:49 IST
last updated:September 07, 2022, 15:49 IST
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