Solar Orbiter - ESA Animations

  • Released Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:45PM

Solar Orbiter is an European Space Agency (ESA) mission with strong NASA participation. Its mission is to perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun and from high-latitudes, providing the first images of the uncharted polar regions of the Sun, and investigating the Sun-Earth connection.

Spacecraft separation - GIF 
Visualization of the separation of Solar Orbiter from the Atlas V upper stage about 53 minutes after launch. 
Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Spacecraft separation - GIF

Visualization of the separation of Solar Orbiter from the Atlas V upper stage about 53 minutes after launch.

Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Thrusters & Solar Array Deployment - GIF 
Visualization showing the thrusters adjust the attitude of the spacecraft before the solar arrays are deployed. The deployment happens in two stages: the first part takes place about five minutes after separation and is spring-driven, unfolding the solar arrays to about 40% within four minutes. The second part is motorised, and will fully extend the solar arrays. This part takes about ten minutes. The solar arrays will be fully deployed by about 40 minutes after spacecraft separation. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Thrusters & Solar Array Deployment - GIF

Visualization showing the thrusters adjust the attitude of the spacecraft before the solar arrays are deployed. The deployment happens in two stages: the first part takes place about five minutes after separation and is spring-driven, unfolding the solar arrays to about 40% within four minutes. The second part is motorised, and will fully extend the solar arrays. This part takes about ten minutes. The solar arrays will be fully deployed by about 40 minutes after spacecraft separation. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Thrusters & Solar Array Deployment - Video

Visualization showing the thrusters adjust the attitude of the spacecraft before the solar arrays are deployed. The deployment happens in two stages: the first part takes place about five minutes after separation and is spring-driven, unfolding the solar arrays to about 40% within four minutes. The second part is motorised, and will fully extend the solar arrays. This part takes about ten minutes. The solar arrays will be fully deployed by about 40 minutes after spacecraft separation. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Boom / antenna deployments - GIF
Visualization showing the deployment of various boom/antennas. In the beginning, the first Radio and Plasma Waves (RPW) antenna is deployed. Then the boom hosting a suite of scientific instruments is deployed (MAG, RPW, and SWA to measure the magnetic and electric fields, and solar wind around the spacecraft). Subsequently, the remaining two RPW antennas are deployed. Finally, the high gain antenna dish is unfurled. In reality this sequence is spaced out over a 24 hour period. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Boom / antenna deployments - GIF

Visualization showing the deployment of various boom/antennas. In the beginning, the first Radio and Plasma Waves (RPW) antenna is deployed. Then the boom hosting a suite of scientific instruments is deployed (MAG, RPW, and SWA to measure the magnetic and electric fields, and solar wind around the spacecraft). Subsequently, the remaining two RPW antennas are deployed. Finally, the high gain antenna dish is unfurled. In reality this sequence is spaced out over a 24 hour period. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Boom / antenna deployments - Video

Visualization showing the deployment of various boom/antennas. In the beginning, the first Radio and Plasma Waves (RPW) antenna is deployed. Then the boom hosting a suite of scientific instruments is deployed (MAG, RPW, and SWA to measure the magnetic and electric fields, and solar wind around the spacecraft). Subsequently, the remaining two RPW antennas are deployed. Finally, the high gain antenna dish is unfurled. In reality this sequence is spaced out over a 24 hour period. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Venus Flyby - GIF
Visualization of a Venus gravity flyby. Solar Orbiter will make numerous gravity assist flybys of Venus (and one of Earth) over the course of its mission to adjust its orbit, bringing it closer to the Sun and also out of the plane of the Solar System to observe the Sun from progressively higher inclinations. This will result in the spacecraft being able to take the first ever images of the Sun’s polar regions, crucial for understanding how the Sun ‘works’. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Venus Flyby - GIF

Visualization of a Venus gravity flyby. Solar Orbiter will make numerous gravity assist flybys of Venus (and one of Earth) over the course of its mission to adjust its orbit, bringing it closer to the Sun and also out of the plane of the Solar System to observe the Sun from progressively higher inclinations. This will result in the spacecraft being able to take the first ever images of the Sun’s polar regions, crucial for understanding how the Sun ‘works’. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Venus Flyby - Video

Visualization of a Venus gravity flyby. Solar Orbiter will make numerous gravity assist flybys of Venus (and one of Earth) over the course of its mission to adjust its orbit, bringing it closer to the Sun and also out of the plane of the Solar System to observe the Sun from progressively higher inclinations. This will result in the spacecraft being able to take the first ever images of the Sun’s polar regions, crucial for understanding how the Sun ‘works’. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Facing the Sun Part 1 - GIF
This visualization begins by showing small sliding doors in the heatshield open to allow the internally-mounted remote-sensing instruments to observe the Sun. Special windows block out heat to protect the instruments during operations. The doors are closed when the instruments are not observing. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Facing the Sun Part 1 - GIF

This visualization begins by showing small sliding doors in the heatshield open to allow the internally-mounted remote-sensing instruments to observe the Sun. Special windows block out heat to protect the instruments during operations. The doors are closed when the instruments are not observing. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Facing the Sun Part 1 - Video

This visualization begins by showing small sliding doors in the heatshield open to allow the internally-mounted remote-sensing instruments to observe the Sun. Special windows block out heat to protect the instruments during operations. The doors are closed when the instruments are not observing. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Facing the Sun Part 2 - GIF
During its closest approaches of the Sun, Solar Orbiter will be travelling fast enough to study how magnetically active regions evolve for up to four weeks at a time. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Facing the Sun Part 2 - GIF

During its closest approaches of the Sun, Solar Orbiter will be travelling fast enough to study how magnetically active regions evolve for up to four weeks at a time. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Visualization of Solar Orbiter making an Earth flyby. The spacecraft will make one Earth flyby during the early stages of its mission, in November 2021. It will make numerous flybys of Venus to adjust its orbit, bringing it closer to the Sun and also out of the plane of the Solar System to observe the Sun from progressively higher inclinations. This will result in the spacecraft being able to take the first ever images of the Sun’s polar regions, crucial for understanding how the Sun ‘works’.

Credit: ESA/ATG medialab



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Missions

This visualization is related to the following missions: