NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter spacecraft has captured unique and highly-detailed images of the Sun during the first of its close perihelion passages on March 26. Pictures are published on the site of the European Space Agency.
During its closest approach to the Sun, the spacecraft was inside the orbit of Mercury, at about one-third the distance from the Sun to the Earth.
The new images depict powerful flares, magnificent views across the solar poles, and the so-called solar “hedgehog.” While scientists begin the analysis of the received dataset, it is already obvious that the Solar Orbiter will provide extraordinary insights into the magnetic behavior of the Sun and the way it shapes space weather.
The solar “hedgehog” stretches 25,000 km across the Sun and got this name because of its many spikes of hot and colder gas that reach out in all directions.
Solar Orbiter is a collaborative mission between the European Space Agency and NASA that was sent into space in 2020. The mission's task is to study the Sun's activity, its coronal mass ejections, magnetic fields, and solar wind acceleration mechanisms.