The European Space Agency’s orbiting solar spacecraft was launched exactly a year ago, and is moving behind the sun at a distance of 74 million kilometers from the star. Earth, sun and probe are currently in alignment. This leads, among other things, to a significant decrease in data speed.
The so-called pairing season will last until about the middle of the month. The orbit of the probe leads the orbiter behind the sun, as seen from Earth. During an earlier orbit, the probe did indeed come behind the sun, but after that there was no coupling with the sun. The current maneuver has consequences for the speed with which data can be sent back to Earth.
According to the European Space Agency The sun’s energy can disrupt communication in both directions. Also, the interference of the sun makes it difficult for ground dishes, which must aim at a point close to the sun to transmit and receive signals reliably. During pairing, ground mission controllers can receive data at 255 bps and transmit at around 7.8 bps, but even at those slow speeds, the connection can fail completely. If the connection actually fails, the various scientific instruments can continue to operate independently. Then the collected data is stored and can be downloaded later.
De Solar Orbiter Located It is currently located 220 million km from Earth and about 74 million km from the sun. This is the first time that a probe with a camera has taken close-up pictures of the sun. On a future tour around the sun, the sun will pass only 42 million kilometers. In contrast, Mercury orbits the Sun at a distance of between 46 and 70 million km. A new post-Venus flight is planned for August, to be followed by one Flew by Along the ground in November.
The probe previously took pictures of the sun’s surface, showingCampfires‘ It can be seen. The solar probe aims to photograph the sun, observe the solar wind, and let’s learn more about the solar cycle. The probe has a Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager on board, with which it is possible to map the magnetic fields of the Sun. Strong magnetic fields could be the cause of the solar wind, which ejects charged particles into space that could disrupt, for example, communications and electricity networks on Earth under certain conditions.
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