Solar Orbiter, the new ESA Sun Explorer, developed in collaboration with NASA, was launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) on February 10th at 05.03 CET. Solar Orbiter will be the first mission to operate in extreme environment up to 500C°, providing images of the poles of the Sun at high latitude and to study magnetic fields, solar wind and space weather, combining in situ and remote sensing observations. The spacecraft will take two years to reach the Sun: 42 Million kilometres at its closest approach, less than Mercury’s distance.
To unlock the secrets of our life-giving Star, to investigate how it works and to reveal the Sun-Earth connections, Solar Orbiter is equipped with ten cutting edge technological instruments. One of these is the coronagraph METIS (Multi Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy) realized by OHB Italia SpA. It will observe the structure and the dynamics of the full corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, with unprecedented temporal coverage and spatial resolution.
This region is crucial to better understand the solar atmospheric phenomena and their evolution in the inner heliosphere. METIS will employ broad-band, polarized and narrow-band imaging technology for screening the solar corona: a unique capability combining three different wavelength bands by means of a single telescope.