ESA’s new Sun explorer will be launched from Cape Canaveral on 6 February. Media are invited to Europe’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to follow the launch and moment of signal acquisition.
Facing the Sun
Solar Orbiter, an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation, will provide the first views of the Sun’s unchartered polar regions from high latitudes, giving unprecedented insight into how our parent star works. This important mission will also investigate the Sun-Earth connection, helping us to better understand and predict periods of stormy space weather.
Over the course of its mission, the spacecraft will use the gravity of Venus to slingshot it out of the plane of the Solar System, giving us new perspectives on our parent star. It will follow an elliptical orbit around the Sun, passing within the orbit of Mercury at its closest. Cutting-edge heatshield technology will ensure the spacecraft’s scientific instruments are protected as they face up to 13 times the heating of satellites in Earth orbit.
Solar Orbiter will use a combination of ten in situ and remote-sensing instruments to observe the turbulent solar surface, its hot outer atmosphere and changes in the solar wind. The mission will also work with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, collecting complementary datasets that will allow more science to be distilled from the two missions than either could achieve on their own.
Experts will present the mission, its technical challenges and scientific goals during a dedicated media briefing at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC).
Programme outline 6 February (all times local CET)
04:00 Doors open
04:30 Programme begins
Experts will present the mission, supplemented with live transmissions from Cape Canaveral including the moment of liftoff at 05:27 CET. The spacecraft will separate from the launcher around 53 minutes after launch, followed by the announcement of acquisition of spacecraft signal, which will be communicated live from ESOC by Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo.
- Rolf Densing, Director of Operations and Head of ESOC
- Mark McCaughrean, Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration
- Markus Kissler-Patig, Head of Science and Operations
- Joachim Woch, Solar Orbiter instrument scientist
- Daniel Verscharen, Solar Orbiter instrument scientist
- Juha-Pekka Luntama, Head of Space Weather Office, Space Safety Programme
- Klaus Merz, Space Debris Analyst, Space Safety Programme
- Didier Morançais, Head of Future Science Program at Airbus
A Q&A session and opportunities for individual interview opportunities will be included in the programme.
06:30 End of briefing and breakfast
How to apply
Media with valid press credentials should register by 2 February at
The event will be hosted in the ESOC media centre:
The launch will be livestreamed from 05:00 CET at https://www.esa.int/esawebtv