Solar Orbiter has recently been defined a scientific breakthrough mission.
First because it is exploring our star at a distance never reached before (42 Million kilometers at its closest approach, less than Mercury’s distance). Second because it is working in a highly prohibitive environment with temperatures ranging from highs of 500° C to -200° C while in the shade.
Within the Mission, the Italian multi-wavelength coronagraph Metis, realized for ASI-Agenzia Spaziale Italiana with the fundamental contribution of OHB Italia, is providing something extraordinary. For the first time ever the expansion of plasma’s speed with very high-resolution images, the fluctuations of the magnetic field in the solar wind (switchbacks) propagating through interplanetary space, as well as the violent coronal mass ejections are being mapped.
These precious data were acquired from Metis over the past few months when the instrument was less than 50 million kilometers from our Star. Such phenomena and perturbations in the solar corona are capable to damage satellites orbiting around the Earth and also to threat various activities on our Planet. This unique opportunity will make new information on space weather available and will allow to study appropriate countermeasures to avoid damage to Space and Earth infrastructure.
The next close Metis flyby to the Sun is scheduled for 13th October 2022. Stay tuned for upcoming updates!