Launch will study the sun

Spacecraft will give a one-of-a-kind look at the sun's poles.
The European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter launches Sunday night.

By

National News

February 7, 2020 - 2:44 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Sunday night, a $1.5 billion spacecraft is scheduled take off from the Space Coast on a years-long journey that, if successful, will take the first-ever images of the Sun’s poles.

It’s data that scientists have been yearning to obtain for years, and it may answer crucial questions about the nature of our Sun and, chiefly, the charged solar particles it spews and their impact across the solar system. The mission will send the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter on a seven-year journey and help heliophysicists gain a better understanding of the dark spots believed to be on the Sun’s poles. The mission will work in conjunction with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which also launched from the Space Coast in August 2018

Solar Orbiter’s launch is set for Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch complex 41 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. ULA will have a two-hour launch window that opens at 11:03 p.m. to takeoff. And the weather is looking good, with an 80% chance of favorable conditions, according to the 45th Weather Squadron.

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