Solar Orbiter’s Pictures of the Sun are Every Bit as Dramatic as You Were Hoping

This is one of the new images of the Sun from the ESA's Solar Orbiter's closest approach on March 26th, 2022. Image Credit: ESA

On March 26th, the ESA’s Solar Orbiter made its closest approach to the Sun so far. It ventured inside Mercury’s orbit and was about one-third the distance from Earth to the Sun. It was hot but worth it.

The Solar Orbiter’s primary mission is to understand the connection between the Sun and its heliosphere, and new images from the close approach are helping build that understanding.

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ESA’s Solar Orbiter Takes a Ludicrously High Resolution Image of the Sun

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter snaps an amazing image, en route to its first close pass near the Sun.

You’ve never seen the Sun like this. Earlier this month, the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter captured an amazing view of our host star.

The images were snapped on March 7th, as Solar Orbiter passed directly between the Earth and the Sun. There was an explicit reason for this, as the science team wanted to calibrate and compare the images with Earth-based and missions in Earth orbit, to include the Inouye solar observatory, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and the joint ESA/NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), located at the Lagrange (L1) Sun-Earth point.

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A Colossal Flare Erupted From the Far Side of the Sun

Solar Orbiter captures giant solar eruption on February 15, 2022. Credit: ESA/NASA

Earlier this week the Sun erupted with a huge explosion, blasting solar particles millions of kilometers into space. The team for the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft says the blast is the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.

Luckily for us here on Earth, the eruption on February 15, 2022 occurred on the farside of the Sun, the side facing away from our planet. But ESA and NASA predict geomagnetic storms are possible in the next few days as the active region on the Sun responsible for the blast turns toward us.

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This Video of Comet Leonard (with Venus and Mercury) will Blow Your Mind

Comet Leonard seen by two spacecraft: The image at right was captured by NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft's SECCHI/HI-2 telescope. Image on left is from the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft. Credit: NASA/ESA.

Since early this year, skywatchers on Earth have been tracking Comet Leonard, a kilometer-wide dirty snowball made of ice, rock and dust. Now, as it heads towards a close encounter with the Sun on January 3, 2022, several spacecraft – with the distinct advantage of having an unobstructed front-row seat to the action – have been keeping an eye on how the comet is changing and evolving as it heats up.

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The First Images and Videos from the Double Venus Flyby

BepiColombo’s close-up image of Venus, taken by the spacecraft’s Monitoring Camera 3 on August 10, 2021. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

Two spacecraft made historic flybys of Venus last week, and both sent back sci-fi-type views of the mysterious, cloud-shrouded planet.

The Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo spacecraft both used Venus for gravity assists within 33 hours of each other, capturing unique imagery and data during their encounters.

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Two Spacecraft are Flying Past Venus, Just 33 Hours Apart

When Longfellow wrote about “ships passing in the night” back in 1863, he probably wasn’t thinking about satellites passing near Venus.  He probably also wouldn’t have considered 575,000 km separation as “passing”, but on the scale of interplanetary exploration, it might as well be.  And passing is exactly what two satellites will be doing near Venus in the next few days – performing two flybys of the planet within 33 hours of each other.

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Solar Orbiter Caught Venus, Earth and Mars in One of its Photos

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft took this image of three Solar System planets: Venus (left), Earth (middle), and Mars (right). Stars are visible in the background. Image taken on November 18, 2020. Credit: ESA/NASA.

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is heading towards the center of the Solar System, with the goal of capturing the closest images ever taken of our Sun. But during its flight, the spacecraft turned back to look towards home. It captured Venus, Earth, and Mars together, as seen from about 155.7 million miles (250.6 million kilometers) away.

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They’re In! The First Images From ESA’s Solar Orbiter

While actually walking on the sun is still just a dream of Smash Mouth fans, humanity has gotten a little bit closer to our nearest solar neighbor with the recent launch of the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (SolO).

SolO has just produced its first round of photographs of the sun in action and they are already revealing some features that have been unseen until now.  Those features might even hold the key to understanding one of the holy grails of heliophysics.

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Time-Lapse Video Reveals 10 Years of the Sun’s Life Crushed into One Stellar Hour

A still shot of the SDO time-lapse

I forget the Sun is a star.

I think we all do sometimes. It’s easy to take for granted. The Sun is that glowing thing that rises in the morning and sets in the evening that we don’t generally pay attention to as we go about our day. However, there are these rare moments when we’re reminded that the Sun is truly a STAR – a titanic living sphere of hydrogen smashing plasma a million times the volume of Earth. One of those rare moments for me was standing in the shadow of the 2017 solar eclipse. We had driven down from Vancouver to Madras, Oregon to watch this astronomical freak of nature. A moon hundreds of times smaller than the Sun, but hundreds of times closer, covers the face of the Sun for the majesty of a STAR to be revealed; the fiery maelstrom of the Sun’s atmosphere visible to the naked eye.

Matt Eclipse 2.jpg
Sun’s corona visible to the naked eye in the shadow of the Moon during the 2017 Solar Eclipse as seen from Madras, Oregon c. Paul Muzzin / Matthew Cimone
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